Review: IM+

Leanna Lofte

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Sep 7, 2008
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DESIGN & USE

The design of IM+ is nice and intuitive. The bottom toolbar has tabs for contacts, inbox, favorites, status, and more. Under the contacts tab you will find find a list of your contacts organized by account, group name, or no group (selected in settings). If no group organization is chosen, then your contact list will by organized alphabetically based on availability. So, the top of your list will show available contacts, then idle or away contacts. At the bottom, offline contacts are treated as a separate group. There is an option to have offline contacts hidden.

Tapping a contact will open a chat window with that contact. If there is a previous conversation stored on IM+, then the window will include that conversation.



To the right of of every contact, there is an "i" to find more information. Tapping this will display the status of the contact, their user ID, as well as the ability to add to favorites, rename, and delete (provided that the IM service associated with the contact allows).

The inbox contains all current and past conversations. If a twitter account is enabled, then @replies and direct messages are treated as their own separate conversations. It is not possible to have twitter conversations treated as a conversation in IM+; only incoming messages are shown in the @reply and DM threads. Conversations can be easily deleted from the inbox with a tap of the edit button.

When writing a message, there is a smiley face on the left and a keyboard on the right of the text field. Tapping the smiley gives a list of symbols (mostly smileys) that you can insert into the message. Be careful with these though, if the receiving client doesn't recognize a symbol, it will be displayed in text form, or worse, a smiley face with some symbols attached.



Tapping the keyboard symbol collapses the keyboard and the smiley face converts to an upload symbol. From here you can send your location, a picture, or voice message. You have to be careful with this too because once you make a choice, it sends without confirmation. This is a major problem, in my opinion. I attempted to send a DM tweet with my location and IM+ ignored the text and sent my location as a public tweet! I'm just glad I was at Starbucks and not my house! This also means that text cannot be included with any media type. All media gets sent as a link. Pictures and voice memos are hosted by IM+ and GPS locations send a link to GPSed.com. It would be nice if the link launched Google maps on an iPhone so the recipient could quickly get directions, but it doesn't.

All links are opened in the built-in browser of IM+. This browser is very cool as it not only allows for reading and navigating through websites provided by links, but you can use it to visit any site by typing the web address into the text field at the top. This is very convenient for those times someone starts an IM conversation when browsing Safari. Just copy the URL before exiting Safari, launch IM+, paste the URL into the browser and quickly tab between conversation and browser. When your conversation is over, just tap the globe at the upper right of the browser to open the current page in Safari. Awesome.



Next is the favorites tab. This is simply a list of contacts that have been marked as favorites. You can add or delete contacts from this list and see more information about them, just as in the contact list.

The status tab is where you can choose your status message (for supporting networks). There are 6 options, Online, On iPhone with IM+, I am here (with link to GPS location), Away, Invisible, and Offline. To add a custom status message or edit the pre-existing ones, just tap edit.




The more tab gives access to your accounts, settings, and in-app web browser.

TWITTER

IM+ is not intended to be used as a primary Twitter client, but makes for a great secondary client. It's convenient to be able to access twitter while holding an IM conversation without having to go back and forth between two apps. Reading tweets on IM+ goes against the conventional style of most recent on top, but this doesn't bother me because I find uniformity within an app to be important and it doesn't make sense for normal IM to read like Twitter.

What makes Twitter so great on IM+ is of course push notification. All DMs and @mentions get pushed within 4 minutes of being sent. Ideally, they would arrive faster, but 4 minutes isn't too bad. The problem with Twitter push on IM+ is that there is no way to choose what you want pushed. It is also a little glitchy and randomly pushes tweets from your timeline that aren't directed at you. It's not horribly intrusive as I've probably only had at most 5 in a day get through, but it needs to be fixed.



CONCLUSION

IM+ is very well designed. Although the implemenation of Twitter push is not perfect, it's a decent first attempt and I trust it will only get better with updates. The advantage of using IM+ is that you can use twitter, hold multiple IM conversations, and browse the web all within one application. At $9.99, IM+ is not cheap, but competive with Beejive. Version 3.2 has been submitted and is in review with Apple, so SHAPE Services has decided to lower the price to $4.99 until release; so if IM+ is something you're interested in, snatch it up quick and let us know what you think!


 
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rapidblue

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Thanx for the review. I currently use BeeJive. Downloaded IM+ too now :D Gonna play around with it and see which I prefer...
 

ctt1wbw

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I HAD both. I uninstalled Beejive the other day. Nice review, btw. I still think IM+ is a better deal.
 

cobra302

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you can set a custom status. if you click on edit on the status page, it will give you that option near the bottom. it will say new status or something like that.
 

icebike

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Note to all:

IM+ version 3.2 just hit the app store this afternoon, so if you have had problems be sure to upgrade.
 

anon(153966)

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Nice review. But, let me ask this, when you open said application, does it sit at 'reconnecting' or the screen before that one, for about 10-20 seconds?

I hate that...
 

li2327

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I have im+ and beejive. I prefer im+ because of the twitter client but I do wish that you can set buddy icons. That's what I do like most about beejive. I hope that's something that will be added in the future.
 

Leanna Lofte

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Nice review. But, let me ask this, when you open said application, does it sit at 'reconnecting' or the screen before that one, for about 10-20 seconds?

I hate that...

It does say "reconnecting", but only for a few seconds. How many accounts are you using? Are you on a 3G or 3GS?
 

anon(153966)

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...am on the 3G at the moment (waiting for my 3G S to be delivered), and only have one account, Twitter.

Would operating via Wifi work better?
 

Leanna Lofte

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I won't be surprised if it reconnects much faster on your 3GS when you get it. I'm sure wifi makes a difference, but even on 3G, it only takes a few seconds for me and I have 3 accounts.
 

icebike

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SKYPE via IM+

NOTE For Connection Problems:

Discovered quite by accident that you can not have DASHs in your Skype Account name in IM+.
This may be fixed by next release.

So if it swirls and swirls but never connects, try using one of the IM+ test accounts for Skype and if that works there may be something wrong with your skype account, and having special characters in the name is one problem.
 

icebike

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NOTE TO ALL

Fring now has Push Notification.

With Fring, you need to first sign up for a Fring Account, and you can chat (voice or text) on that alone.

Voice chats are limited to WIFI (Thank you ATT!).

But in addition, it handles Skype, GoogleTalk, MSN, ICQ, SIP (many different flavors of voip), Twitter(chat), Yahoo and AIM. These are called Add Ons.

With Fring, you have to understand that accounts/passwords are cached on their servers, whereas with IM+ all passwords are cached only on your phone. So I avoid using Fring with any account I really value, even though they have a privacy policy.

Further, Fring makes repeated attempts to use your GPS location services, without even a hint of why they do this, or what the are providing in return for this violation of privacy. Unlike other apps, it appears not to want to take NO for an answer, asking over and over again. I actually reported this to Apple via the APP store, because I can't find any reason for it to do so, and they never said that they were doing it.

Fring has a built in web browser mostly to access their sign up and account management services.

Fring is free. It uses another business model for a revenue stream.

It sells "affiliates" allowing other services (mostly Voip providers and Voip Gateway services) to service and market fring as a gateway to their service.
Of course this only works for the SIP industry, and perhaps Skype Out.
They supplement this with AdMob advertising, small one line ads that appear on certain screens. (Is this what they use the GPS for?).

If you have a SIP (voip) account or Skype Out, it integrates that account into their dialer and phone book (which includes all your normal contacts as well), and you can choose which service to use for each call via buttons at the bottom of the dial window.

It does nearly as well as either BeeJive or IM+ for providing instant chat notifications across international boundaries, at a much reduced price.
It integrates SIPPhone accounts and voice calling (over WiFi), a market segment which IM+ seems to ignore.

It might make a very good app for your first foray into a Push Notification chat application. It has just enough annoying habits to turn me off for a general IM client, especially since I don't use SIP.
 
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icebike

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Another Subtlity of the interface

Didn't see where Llofte mentioned this, so just in case...

Something I just noticed is if you have multiple conversations going you can just swipe left or right (while looking at one conversation) to scroll sideways between conversations.
 

icebike

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Bumping this old thread to mention new version of IM+ (3.3) was released today.

Reconnects to three different services upon launching are all completed within 5 seconds (wifi). So far I've seen none of the Skype flayness that prior versions exhibited.

It also has re-tweet, and twitter timelines.
 

gadgetski

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n00bie

Hi every one, just got a new 3GS a few weeks back, this is also my first ever iPhone so call me a virgin if you will :D

I also purchased IM+ during the $4.99 sale. This is probably my favorite app on my iPhone since twitter is built in. I just have a question about the new 3.3 release. How do you go about upgrading to the latest version from 3.2?

TIA.
 

rapidblue

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Hi every one, just got a new 3GS a few weeks back, this is also my first ever iPhone so call me a virgin if you will :D

I also purchased IM+ during the $4.99 sale. This is probably my favorite app on my iPhone since twitter is built in. I just have a question about the new 3.3 release. How do you go about upgrading to the latest version from 3.2?

TIA.

On iTunes on your computer click on Applications on the left and then and then check for updates at the bottom

or

Go to App Store on the iPhone and then to updates

Enjoy ur new phone :D
 

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