Five Across touts InterComm 1.3 as a collaboration tool with instant messaging, file sharing, and version control features. Unfortunately, it fails at almost all of these tasks.
InterComm comes with a pre-configured Personal group to which you can add contacts; however, a bug in the Mac version prevented contacts from appearing in the default group. The company says a fix is forthcoming, but has not given a timetable. Until then, users can add their own contact groups in order to access the program’s various collaboration functions, including instant messaging, group scheduling, and file sharing.
Each of InterComm’s collaboration features has faults or shortcomings. For instance, the program lets group members share Web links and receive notification when new links are added. But there are no functions for rearranging, grouping, or annotating links. I had problems deleting certain links and even had some deleted links reappear.
Contact groups also have an RSS tab for reading syndicated online news feeds. Hopefully you have one news source you trust because each group can track only a single RSS feed. The software does not support graphics within feeds or feeds in the newer ATOM syndication format.
InterComm comes up short in its document collaboration and versioning features too. It does let users share documents, store previous file versions, and receive notifications when files have changed. However, InterComm lacks functions to avoid simultaneous editing conflicts, or features to compare or merge different versions of a document.
Since archived versions of files count toward a user’s online disk quota, you can quickly use up your quota simply by saving a series of small changes to a large file. The service charges for saving more than an incredibly small 1MB of data—with additional storage plans starting at $5 per month—so frequent editing and saving of documents could prove to be prohibitively expensive.
InterComm lacks many of the features commonly found in instant-messaging programs, such as audio chat, customized alerts, and graphical emoticons. Instead, InterComm adds a Shortcuts panel to click and send frequently used text, and an Attention button that sends an audio alert. Annoyingly, the audio feature cannot be disabled.
InterComm ostensibly allows users to send files and screenshots back and forth within an instant-message session. However, in testing between several Mac and Windows clients, the only combination where transfers were consistently successful was from a Mac to a Windows client. Most tests resulted in empty files on the receiving end.
In addition to its many faults, the most exasperating aspects of using and testing InterComm were the repeated server disconnects and frequent crashing. The Five Across technical support team quickly responded to queries via e-mail, confirming that the network had been experiencing “hiccups.” These hiccups were frequent throughout my testing.
Macworld’s buying advice
InterComm 1.3 lacks key features that users have come to expect from instant-messaging software. It also suffered from a number of reproducible as well as intermittent bugs. I do not recommend using InterComm until Five Across improves the program’s capabilities and performance.
[ Matt Vance is a technology consultant, Web developer, and freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. ]InterComm limits users to one RSS feed per group.
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