2011 Readers' Choice Awards Winner: Best Free App
- Supports all the major chat networks
- Easy to use
- Push notifications only work for 72 hours after last login
Instant messaging apps are a streamlined solution for keeping in touch with friends on various social networks. The imo instant messaging app (Free) is very easy to use and takes only minutes to set up for multiple accounts.
Discover more top picks in our article on the best iPhone social networking apps.
Skype support is a big plus
The imo app supports numerous social networking sites and chat networks, including MSN, Skype Chat, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo, Facebook, and MySpace. Skype support is a big perk, since other top-rated messaging apps (like Meebo) don’t support it. Each supported network is listed along the top of the homescreen. It takes a few minutes to enter your username and password for each account, but then you are reading to start chatting.
Imo includes a lot of features I appreciate, including the ability to add friends to separate buddy lists (work, school, etc.) to keep things organized. You can create your own labels for these groups. Imo makes it easy to set your availability status at the top of the app, including available, busy, and invisible. You can even set a status message. There are also other neat features including a searchable chat history, a buddy favorites list, and support for voice messaging.
Imo also supports push notifications so you’ll be alerted when you get a new message, but that feature only works for 72 hours after you close the app. I’m not sure why that would be, but it means you’ll have to log in regularly or you may miss some messages.
Customized buddy lists are another perk
Under the ‘Buddies’ tab, imo displays a list of your online and offline buddies for all your accounts. Click on any of your online friends to launch the chat screen, which is very easy to use. Simply type your message and hit send.
There are a few privacy issues to keep in mind. When you add your Facebook account, for example, the imo app asks for permission to do several things that may make some users pause. In addition to accessing your basic information and Facebook chat, the app also requests permission to access your data at any time -- even when you’re not using the app -- and to access your friends’ information.
Unfortunately, you can’t opt out of any of these settings since it is an all-or-nothing request. I would certainly prefer that imo only be allowed to access my Facebook information when I’m using the app, but it is necessary if you want to receive push notifications. I should note that this is not something unique to imo, as pretty much any Facebook application requires some sort of privacy permissions.
The Bottom Line
Imo is a solid app for keeping in touch with friends on a variety of instant messaging networks. It supports multiple social sites and is a cinch to set up. The ability to create separate buddy lists is a huge plus, as is the searchable chat history. I’m not sure why there is a 72-hour limit on push notifications, but that’s the only downside I can find. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need