iDialog iPhone OCS client

The fine folks at Modality Systems in the UK just released iDialog, an iPhone client for OCS 2007 and OCS 2007 R2. Executive summary: I like it and think it was worth the $10.

Modality have a good FAQ that addresses questions about what the program does. In short, it does everything you could do from within Communicator Web Access. For example, you can send and receive text IM messages, see your contacts’ presence state, search the GAL, and control incoming OCS enterprise voice calls.

IMG_0161
my own contact card has some editable properties

IMG_0163
other users’ cards have the standard card properties. 

I tested iDialog this morning to see how well it worked. The overall experience was quite good; my contacts appeared as I expected.

To the left, you can see what my user’s contact card looks like. iDialog uses a similar view for your contact card as it does for those of other users, with the difference that you can edit some fields of yours (like the Note and Location fields). To change your presence status, tap the jellybean icon in the upper-left corner of the screen and you’ll see the familiar OCS presence states.

You can see the iDialog toolbar at the bottom of the screenshot, too. It’s as self-explanatory as can be (though a bit plain-looking). Tapping the Chats icon takes you to a list of current conversations, each of which shows you how many pending messages you haven’t yet responded to.

When you look at the contact card for one of your contacts (or someone that you look up in the GAL), you get a wealth of information (a la Outlook 2007/2010) about the person: their presence level, how long they’ve been away, their free-until/busy-until state (although the "free-busy at…" text is a bit confusing at first), and so on. Tapping a contact’s e-mail address launches a new mail message (incidentally quitting iDialog), and tapping a phone number opens the built-in phone app to place a call over the GSM network (provided you’re on a phone; you can’t do this on an iPod Touch).

GAL searching worked fine in my limited tests: type in all or part of a user’s name and you’ll get a list of matches back. I’ve seen a few reports of crashing during searches, but I couldn’t reproduce those myself.

 
The conversation view itself looks a lot like the built-in Messages app, but the bubble sizes and colors are just slightly off. I attribute that to Modality’s decision to include more information than Messages does, including the name of the sender of each comment and the time at which it was sent. Check the shot on the right of an active chat session to see what I mean.

There’s a lot going on here. You can see the name of the person I’m talking to (well, at least part of it), along with a navigation control to go back to the chat list. The Options button allows you to invite additional users or quit the chat (though there’s currently no way to kick a user from a multi-party conference). iDialog provides the same "… is typing a message" prompt that CWA does, too, a nice touch. However, what dominates the view of an active session is Apple’s soft keyboard, taking up fully half of the available screen. That makes it harder than necessary to follow what’s going on. I’d prefer to see the keyboard only when I start typing, a la Apple’s SMS application.

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MPOP worked fine; during my conversations I remained logged in to Communicator. The experience had a few odd points. Mysteriously, my status was once automatically set to Do Not Disturb, although because I was logged in to Communicator at the same time this may not have had anything to do with iDialog.

iDialog doesn’t seem to have a way to edit the phone forwarding settings you currently have in place, so I had to use CWA to turn off my default forwarding. Once I had done so, though, iDialog notified me of incoming calls and let me forward them to pre-defined numbers, just as CWA or Communicator would.

A suggestions to the Modality gang for future releases: when entering an IM in the 1.0.0 release, if the IM is longer than the width of the text view, the text view scrolls right. A better (IMHO) way to do this is to do what the iPhone’s native apps do and grow the height of the text bubble. This can easily be accomplished using TTTextController from Joe Hewitt‘s excellent Three20 library.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “iDialog iPhone OCS client

  1. Shevin Bagwell

    Group expansion does not seem to work on my iPhone — everything else seems to do a pretty good job for the initial version.

  2. Ed Banti

    Does it support push notifications? I’d hate to have to leave it open to continue receiving IMs.

  3. Shevin:thanks for pointing that out! I noticed that it wouldn’t expand AD groups, but I forgot to mention that in the review.
    Ed: It doesn’t do push. Apple’s push scheme requires a server-side component to send the push notifications to Apple’s server. Modality isn’t doing that, which makes sense to me. I’d like it if I could get push notification of missed conversations, though. (In fact that might be a cool project: an EWS app that monitors folders for missed call notifications and then sends push notifications to iPhone users).

  4. Jason

    My company is currently rolling out iPhones in small numbers. We are a blackberry shop on exchange. So far the only thing missing on my iPhone vs. the berry is OC. I was pleased to come across iDialog. In testing it appears to be a very smoothe app with any of the features I would expect to have. However, the lack of push notification is hindering. OC is a big part of the culture here and employees will expect the same experience they have with enterprise messenger on the berry or the OC client on their PC.
    I use beejive for my google talk im. It is capable of push notifications that appear just like the native SMS messages do. Any hope of this being improved in iDialog in the future? It is not practical to leave the app open at all times.

  5. Hi, I’m the PM at Fuze Meeting and our free application supports OCS on the iPhone and includes Push. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  6. Thanks, Greg! I’ll definitely give it a try.

  7. Frank

    Greg, How do you need to connect to OC, i dont see where to enter the URL
    thanks