IM+: Smooth Instant Messaging for Windows Phone

The number of chat accounts one has to sign up to keep in touch has increased exponentially. Of course, you can download separate apps for specific accounts and use it but running multiple apps in the background will kill your phone’s performance. Not to mention the sheer amount of logging in and micro managing that you’ll have to do.

This is when IM+ comes along. IM+ is a mobile application which lets you to sign in to multiple chat services and chat with your friends simultaneously from different accounts.

Download and Installation

IM+ is one of the most used app in the market. When you search for it in the marketplace, it should appear reasonably on top of the list. Downloading it will take a jiffy since the file size is less than a megabyte.

Initially, when you run the app for the first time, you’ll need to configure the accounts which you’ll be using regularly. IM+ gives you a wide range of account to use from including Google Talk, Facebook, AOL, ICQ, MySpace, Yammer and a lot more.

Initial Configuration

Let’s start by adding your account to IM+! In order to do that, tap on one of the services you wish to add, say Google Talk. Tap on the -> arrow at the bottom and the app will ask for your gTalk ID and password. Tap the ‘Save’ icon to save and continue. You can also add multiple accounts at the same time so that you can get it over with in a single shot.

Once the above part is over, you’ll see the IM+ account manager screen. Initially, your account will be offline/disabled. To enable it, tap and hold the account for a second. You’ll see a small menu consisting of two options viz., Enable and Remove. Tap Enable and whoa! You are online!

When you have signed in to different chat services, by default, IM+ displays separate groups for each particular service and here comes the tricky part: the offline contacts of all your accounts are grouped under a single group called “Offline”.

Take heart though: you can differentiate who is online from which account by looking at the small logo to the right of your contact’s username. If it is Facebook, you’ll see a tiny F and if it is Gtalk, you’ll find a G. You can change the settings to ‘Group by Account’, ‘Group by Name’ and ‘No groups’.

Did I mention that you can set your status through IM+? That’s right, you can set your status right from within IM+ but keep in mind that not every account gives you that option. For example, Facebook doesn’t allow you to set a status but Gtalk and Skype do. Additionally, the same status will be displayed to every account so that’s something to remember as well.

User Interface and Overall Functionality

The user interface of IM+ is pretty clean, I must admit. Even though the app is advertisement supported, they don’t bother you inside the chat screen — definitely a +100 in my book. Only the contacts page displays the ads which is not a big deal because you wouldn’t spend a lot of time in the contacts page. I hope more developers follow this trend!

The functionality is pretty much what you’d expect: you type and send the messages. IM+ gives you a bunch of bright funky smilies to choose from, if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also attach an image to send it to your friends. You can either take a snap at the moment or choose from your library.

IM+ lets you receive messages in real time. You can minimize the app and when you receive a message, you’ll see a notification at the top of your screen. If you haven’t noticed that, the app doesn’t bother notifying you through the lockscreen.

A Few Caveats

The major downside of the app is it handles messages sent and received outside it rather poorly. Let me explain.
When you chat with your buddy from your computer and when you sign in with IM+, it sometimes considers that desktop specific conversation as offline messages and you start receiving all the IMs ins a single streak in your phone, with those sounds to boot! It gets pretty irritating because the app hangs, half a minute if it’s a long conversation, but it doesn’t seem to happen all the time.

Wrapping Up

Well, what else is there to say about IM+? It’s a well established instant messaging app that’s a staple on the other platforms. They took their sweet time porting this over to Windows Phone but I think they’ve done it right.

They’ve interpreted the Metro design language well and the app is fairly smooth and stable. If you’re in the market for an integrated, multi-platform IM client, this is an incredibly good bet!


Summary

IM+ has all your messaging needs covered, regardless of whether you want to text your address book contacts or stay in touch with your IM contacts.

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