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Client Review: Rooms for the iPhone

When the iPhone first hit the stores, it was a long time where there was no native IRC client available for it and there was no other option than jailbreaking the phone to get one.

Luckily for all IRC users among the iPhone owners, Björn Teichmann created Rooms to fill that gap.

Now being available in version 0.6.8 (and 0.7.0 in a few days) from the AppStore, it already has matured quite a bit, is pretty usable and incorporates most features one could think of to make it a full-blown client that caters to almost everyones needs.

It supports auto connect on start as well as auto join, multiple nets and channels at the same time and even lets you connect using SSL if the network of your choice supports it. Joining keyed (+k) channels isn’t a problem either and even lets you save those so you’ll also be autojoined on connect in these if you want it to. It has a built-in browser which you can use to go to websites directly from within the Rooms GUI so you don’t have to close it down in order to check a link someone pasted in a channel.

Logging your conversations is possible too, auto identifying to NickServ as well as password support for servers which lets you connect to your bouncer easily. If that isn’t enough you can also make it supply arbitrary commands on connect so the possibilities are really endless in that regard.
It supports actions (/me), private messages and has a raw console if you really have to perform a command that is not possible otherwise.

Now with Rooms nearing it’s 0.7.0 release it there have been a boatload of bugfixes and feature additions (complete changelog here). The UI has undergone quite a few changes here and there in the upcoming version of which i will include a few screenshots below.

The main chat window:

Rooms main chat window

Rooms main chat window

As users of the current 0.6.8 version will notice, Rooms now supports colors and has gotten a new icon on the lower left instead of the old “i” (0.7.0 was sent in for review with an apple as the icon which Apple didn’t seem to like, as it is the reason why they delayed/halted the release…).

A look at the popup windows that let you select some options and the nick you want to PRIVMSG:

Rooms nicklist

Rooms nicklist

Rooms main menu popup

Rooms main menu popup

And finally, let’s have a look at the revised settings dialog (the screenshot just shows parts of it, there’s quite a bit more to fiddle with):

Rooms settings dialog

Rooms settings dialog

Another thing users of non-jailbroken phones will love is the possibility to turn off the at times annoying spellcheck – fix this on a global scale please, Apple :)

Oh and you can now, provided you have sufficient rights in that channel, kick and op users too – so Rooms is really getting there to become a full-featured client that doesn’t need to hide itself from it’s desktop counterparts. The author encourages Rooms users to submit bug reports and feature requests on his bugtracker so stuff that needs to be worked on might be just an update or two away.

Summing it up i have to say that chatting on the iPhone with Rooms is quite a pleasure and you sometimes forget that you are doing so on a mobile handheld device. Also, being available for just $2.99 (2.39€) it is more than worth it’s price (calling it cheap would be insulting i guess ;) ).