Trillian Astra: First Hands On!


I have four or five different IM accounts, on as many different types of services (AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo IM, ICQ, and Google Talk), but for many years, I only used one application to chat with my friends and coworkers on all the different platforms-- Trillian . That all changed a few weeks ago, when the open source wizards behind the Pidgin client (you might remember it as Gaim) released version 2.0. Pidgin fixed most of the problems I had with Gaim--it loads fast, looks reasonably good, and works flawlessly, even supporting file transfers and more advanced features. Without a glance back at the aging Trillian client, I moved to Pidgin full time on all my machines.

As a disclaimer, Trillian was one of the first apps to receive our Softy award, and is a long-time favorite of mine. I was pretty bummed that the last version went untouched and virtually unupdated for as long as it has.

This evening, I got an invite to the alpha test for Trillian's new client: Astra . I've only been using it for about 45 minutes so far, and much of the nifty online profile stuff isn't active right now. I took a bunch of screens, so that you guys can see what's changed. This isn't a review, just a first look. But, a bunch of stuff has changed.

On the next page, we've got a few more screens, and a list of the stuff that's changed...

  • Tile view. It's the big giant screenshots below. Check it out.
  • Astra picked up the aliases and groups for all of my contacts on first load, on a machine that's never had Trillian before. That's a first, and definitely welcome.
  • Astra seems to load much faster than the old version did. Before, it was somewhere between Photoshop and Acrobat Reader speed, now it's more like IE (but in a good way).
  • There are options built-in for Google Talk and Myspace IM. I've never used Myspace IM, but I'll muck around with it as soon as I get some Myspace Friends. Google Talk support works really well.
  • There are tons of color schemes for the default skin, and you can change between them without rebooting. You can even change between skins without rebooting. Very nice!

  • There's some sort of news item in each message window. Not sure exactly what it's showing, sometimes it seems kind of like an ad, sometimes it's a news clip, sometimes it's random and funny. Also, you can browse back and forth; and it seems to change based on your conversation. Not sure if I like that, but I guess I don't mind Gmail doing the same thing.
  • Widgets for weather, Flickr photos, and stuff like Twitter. Not sure why I need more widgets, but they're here. Apparently they'll communicate with other people on my contact list at some point, but not quite yet.
OK, now on to the screenshots and to bed with me!

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