The iPhone offers up a handful of IM apps, but IM+ works best. It’s easy to set up, has an intuitive interface, supports many chat protocols, offers encrypted chats, and it’s available for free.
Note: Our favourite IM client used to be imo, but it dropped support for other services. This isn’t to diminish our current choice in any way, but to let you know why imo is no longer a part of this post.
- Supports multiple chat protocols: AIM/ICQ, Facebook, Google Talk, MSN/Windows Live, Neighbours and Beep.
- Concurrent sessions allow you to be logged in on your desktop while also being logged in on your phone.
- Push notifications will let you know when you receive a new message, even when the app is in the background.
- Supports video, voice and photo messages.
- Access your chat history from the app or in any web browser.
- Settings sync with iCloud.
- Apps are available for many other platforms, so you can use IM+ if you have an Android tablet (or whatever else).
- Supports OTR (Off the Record) end-to-end encryption.
- Simple interface with colourful chat bubbles.
- Easily set your status.
Where It Excels
IM+ provides a very simple interface yet offers plenty of features (seen above). It takes just moments to set up your accounts and start chatting. It will easily import friend/buddy lists with your accounts and have you up and running in minutes. You can sync all your settings with iCloud if you have multiple devices, such as an iPad. IM+ exists in the web, so even if you don’t have a supported device onhand (of which there are many) with the app installed, you can check your chat history and actually chat from any web browser. You’re not limited by message type either. You can just send text, or you can also add video, audio and photos.
Where It Falls Short
IM+ doesn’t leave much to complain about. It’s easy to use and works well. Some users have complained about connectivity issues here and there, but we haven’t experienced this problem. IM+ comes with ads, which is to be expected with a free app. You can pay $4.49 in-app or buy the pro version to remove them. It’s not a huge fee considering you’re probably going to get free updates for the life of the app.
BeejiveIM is another popular option, but it costs $5.49. It’s very similar to IM+, but IM+ is your go-to app if you want something that is free.
Verb offers minimalism, but users have complained that push notifications have become very unreliable.
Instant messaging apps worth noting seem to be dropping off the app store. People are using proprietary services more now than anything, and our previous choice (imo) decided to drop support for third-party services in favour of its own service. As a result, we’ll have a new app directory entry in the future to look at these alternative options as well.
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