Google Talk is great, but not if you have friends scattered across MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Facebook and every other chat network ever created. You don’t have to run eleven different apps to stay in touch; just use imo.im for Android and get every protocol in one slick app.
As you might expect from an app started by one of Google’s first ten employees, imo.im integrates nicely with Android and has a simple, clean interface. It isn’t just another free app that displays ads or pushes you to upgrade, either – it’s ad-free and has no paid, premium version.
Launch imo.im and you’ll see three different panes — Contacts, Chats and Accounts. The accounts pane lets you manage your accounts, set status messages and select a buddy icon.
The first thing you’ll want to do is add an account. imo.im supports popular networks like Google Talk, MSN, AIM and Yahoo; social networks like Facebook and Myspace; and even Skype.
You can add multiple accounts and link them together. When you link your accounts, imo.im saves their passwords in an encrypted form on imo.im’s servers. imo.im automatically logs into your other connected accounts whenever you sign into one. This lets you sign into all your accounts with a single password, even if you’re using the imo.im web app.
Tap the Contacts icon and you’ll see online contacts from every account you have in imo. You can organize your contacts into groups or use the search box to find them. Just tap a contact’s name to start a conversation.
Long press a contact and you’ll see a screen with more information about that contact. From here, you can set an alias for the contact, which you’ll see instead of the contact’s screen name. For quick access to a contact, you can tap Favorite so they’ll always appear at the top of your contacts list or tap Shortcut to add a shortcut to your home screen. The shortcut will instantly launch a chat with your contact.
The contacts list also includes a few other features – you can tap the menu button to start a group chat or search your chat history (if you have the history feature enabled).
The chats pane lists your in-progress conversations and displays a preview of the most recent message. You’ll see a blue chat bubble icon if a conversation has new messages.
The top of the chat screen shows your open chat conversations; you can swipe between them like you’d switch tabs on a desktop chat program.
One of imo.im’s standout features is support for multimedia attachments. Tap the microphone icon to send a voice message – your contact will get a link to an MP3 file (they’ll see a play button if they’re using imo.im.) You can also hit the menu button and tap Attach to add an image or video from your phone’s camera. imo.im can also attach image, video and audio files from your device’s storage.
imo.im provides notifications, so you’ll see new messages arrive even if you’re using another app.
Web App Integration
The imo.im Android app is completely integrated with the the web app available at (surprise) imo.im. You can sign in from any web browser and use the same accounts you’ve set up on imo.im; just sign in with one account and you’ll sign into them all, assuming they’re linked.
The web app and Android app work seamlessly together. Sit down at your computer, start a conversation and continue it on your Android phone – whenever you send a message in one app, you’ll see it instantly appear in the other. Your conversation history is also stored in the imo.im website, so you can access it anywhere, anytime. Don’t worry if you’d rather not store your conversation history online; this feature is optional.
imo.im even has a Chrome extension, if you’re into that sort of thing.
imo.im’s preferences screen contains a good number of options. Its notifications are completely customizable — you can disable them entirely if you want. You can also have imo.im alert you with a vibration, LED flash and/or sound when new messages arrive.
Imo.im saves your account passwords by default, but you can disable this behavior in the privacy section. You can also have imo.im automatically start and sign in when your phone turns on, so you’ll always be available to your contacts. This is also where you can control imo’s online chat history feature.
The look and feel section contains a few options that can change the way conversations appear in imo.im. You can disable buddy icons or emoticons and adjust the size of the font imo.im uses in conversations.
imo.im is a standout multi-protocol chat application, both for Android and on the web. It’s probably the best multi-protocol chat app for Android, and it’s completely free. Check out our list of the best Android apps for more Android app goodness.
Tried imo.im? Or do you swear by another chat app? Tell us what you think in the comments.