Cerulean gives Trillian 3.0 sneak peek

The Trillian instant messaging (IM) application will feature several enhancements in its upcoming version 3.0, including new video and audio chat capabilities, enhanced IM session logs and integration with the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, according to information posted Friday on the product developer's Web site.

Trillian, developed by Cerulean Studios, is an application that consolidates in a single interface IM contacts from a variety of IM services, such as America Online's AIM, Yahoo's Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger. Because most IM services don't interoperate with each other, it's necessary to log on separately to each IM network to communicate with its members. While Trillian doesn't solve the interoperability problem, it does prevent users from having to keep an IM buddy-list interface open for each network.

The much-anticipated version 3.0 of Trillian went into public alpha testing on Friday, wrote Scott Werndorfer, Cerulean Studios' co-founder and head developer, in an entry to the company's blog (http://blog.ceruleanstudios.com). Also on Friday, the company posted a sneak preview of Trillian 3.0's new features and enhancements in its home page (a href="http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/sneakpreview">http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/sneakpreview).

Regarding video chat, Trillian 3.0 features picture-in-picture mode, full-screen mode and side-by-side video windows, according to the sneak preview. Video chat also has a new feature called Emotiblips for sharing audio and video clips in real-time during an IM session; Cerulean Studios says Emotiblips are the audio/video equivalent of emoticons. Another new feature are video filters such as grayscale, sepia and pixelation, that let users customize their video streaming look and mood.

With audio chats, billed as all new, Trillian 3.0 users will be able to make audio calls from the Trillian interface to users on different networks, such as MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. Trillian 3.0 has a volume control interface, including a mute button, an audio recording and playback feature, as well as support for Yahoo Chatrooms for audio conferencing.

Meanwhile, the enhanced session logging feature offers a new "timeline view" that lists all IM conversations by date and time, as well as their duration. With Trillian 3.0, users will also be able to bookmark important moments within IM conversations. Trillian 3.0 will also let users search through archived conversations by keyword, date or type.

A feature called Instant Lookup underlines on-the-fly terms that appear in IM conversations and have an entry in the Wikipedia. Hovering over the word or phrase pops up a brief summary of it, while clicking on it provides further options. Trillian 3.0 supports launching a Web search for a word or phrase by right-clicking on it directly from the IM chat window.

Trillian 3.0 features enhancements to the interface's layout, aimed at making it tidier and more intuitive.

The fee-based Trillian Pro 3.0 version will contain all of these features, while the free Trillian Basic 3.0 version will offer some of the features.

The enhancements and additions in Trillian 3.0 seem to point at an attempt by Cerulean Studios to make the product more attractive for enterprise use, said Michael Osterman, president of industry analysis company Osterman Research. "I wouldn't call Trillian a true enterprise-grade product, but it's certainly pushing towards that," he said. Currently, Trillian's user base is mostly among consumers, and it has a market share of about 1 percent to 2 percent in businesses, Osterman said.

Trillian's greatest weakness traditionally has been that when an IM service provider makes a protocol change in its network, it sometimes has the effect of cutting off Trillian's connectivity to that network, Osterman said. In those cases, Cerulean Studios does its best to restore the link, he said. "It's not a continual problem for them, but it's a difficulty," Osterman said.

Cerulean Studios didn't immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment about Trillian 3.0.

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