If you’re looking to spice up your chat client on Linux with some plugins but don’t know where to start, don’t freak out! Check out our list of the 6 best Empathy chat plugins.
To be clear, the Empathy chat client doesn’t have an official plugin directory, and as a result, there aren’t many third-party plugins for the app. That said, it can easily make use of Pidgin plugins. Before going through this list, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve got the Telepathy Haze plugin installed. With this Empathy plugin on your Linux PC, you’ll be able to take full advantage of pretty much any plugin or extension written for the Pidgin IM client inside of Empathy.
If you’re not sure how to get the Telepathy Haze plugin working, check out our guide all about how to enable Pidgin Plugins on Empathy.
1. SkypeWeb Plugin
It’s not hard to dislike the official Linux Skype client, as it’s a web wrapper, and crashes a lot, due to the limited time Microsoft spends on it. That’s where SkypeWeb Plugin comes in: it’s a plugin that allows users of the Empathy chat client to interact with Skype. To be clear, this plugin doesn’t make it possible to make video and audio calls to your contacts. With how Skype works, that’s just not possible.
Still, if you use Skype to keep in contact with friends over messages, installing this plugin is a good way to go as it gives you what you want out of the service on Linux, without needing to deal with the official program.
2. Purple Hangouts
Along with Skype, Google Hangouts is one of the more popular chat tools in the world. Many people use it to keep in touch. Unfortunately, there’s no native Linux application, so the only way users can take part in the Hangout service is by using Google’s web browser or using the web version. This is fine, but Chrome uses a lot of memory, making it impossible for some Linux users to use Hangouts.
To get around the need to use Google Chrome, Empathy users can install the Purple Hangouts plugin. It gives users full access to their friend’s list and access to the Hangouts service.
Steam has been a native application on Linux for at least 4 years now, so there’s hardly a justification for using a third-party plugin to access Steam Chat via instant messenger, right? Wrong. As it turns out, even though many Linux users are happy that Valve brought Steam over to Linux, they still choose to dual-boot windows for video gaming. As a result, those that use Windows for games often don’t install Steam on Linux, as they aren’t gaming with it and don’t see a point.
If you miss your Steam friends on Linux but don’t want to deal with the official Linux app, there’s another way: the OpenSteamworks chat plugin. It’s a third party addition to chat clients like Empathy and Pidgin that make it possible to add Steam friends to your buddy list.
4. Battlenet V2 And Battlenet Classic
Aside from Steam, EA Origin, and Ubisoft Uplay, Blizzard’s Battlenet client is one of the largest gaming apps on PC. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Linux as a native application. Not having a Linux Battlenet app makes it tough communicating with friends while using Linux — until now.
Introducing Battlenet V2. It’s a plugin for Linux chat clients (like Empathy). The plugin interacts with the Battlenet API and lets users communicate with friends on the service. The V2 plugin only works with new Blizard games like Overwatch, Diablo III, and others.
In addition to Battlenet V2, there is Battlenet Classic. It’s a similar plugin with the goal of connecting users to the Blizzard Gaming service, via chat apps like Empathy and Pidgin. Battlenet V2 handles the modern games, while Classic does the same but for old-school Blizzard games like StarCraft, Diablo 2, etc.
5. Gnome Phone Manager
The Gnome Phone Manager is an excellent addition to Empathy that allows users to send and receive SMS text messages. Unlike a lot of other plugins on this list, Gnome Phone Manager isn’t a Pidgin-based plugin. Instead, it’s a Telepathy extension that brings SMS functionality directly to Empathy.
The way the app works is interesting. Instead of using an email address and sending messages to Text like some other plugins, or relying on third-party applications to do the work, Gnome Phone Manager takes advantage of Bluetooth. By connecting to your PC over Bluetooth, it allows Empathy (or any other app using the plugin) to send SMS directly to your phone, wirelessly.
Overall, Gnome Phone Manager is a necessary addition to the Empathy chat client for those who want to bring text friends into their chat buddy list.