I don’t remember the last time I was chatting online though instant messaging. Really, I would say most of my conversations happen with my Blackberry used as a medium. What about you? Think about it. What better way is there to keep all of your friends, family and other contact all in one place? Here you have all of these apps installed, and all of them are ready to keep you connected. You have one for Twitter, another for Skype, another for Facebook and another for… hmm well that’s not very efficient is it? I mean, here I have all of these applications ready to help me commence in my rants and ramblings, but I don’t think my thumbs can take the typing AND navigating. Not to mention my poor BlackBerry is running low on memory. Perhaps I should cut back a little. Nah! Maybe I should find one app to cover my social networks!
That’s where an application like IM+ comes into play. This application becomes the hub to your online life (or in some cases your ONLY life). You can easily manage your accounts with some of the major players of the social networking game. Twitter, Google Talk, Jabber, you name it. Set your status to busy and have a look.
IM + was developed by SHAPE Services. The app catalogue for the company also includes; GPSed and the Mobiola lineup. IM+ is currently in version 8.5 and has a file size of 1.4MB (which is what an app that covers one social network typically is). Your BlackBerry must be running OS 4.2 or higher, but the advanced options are available with 4.6 and higher. The advanced options include BlackBerry inbox integration and speech recognition.
IM+ is able to connect users to Google Talk, Twitter, Facebook, Jabber, Skype, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, MySpaceIM and AIM/iCHAT. The application makes it quite easy to set up each account that you want to have access to. Depending on your security settings, you may get blocked from accessing your accounts from the application, as I was with my Facebook account. This was because it appeared as though I was logging in from another Country.
The main menu houses all of the accounts you have signed into. Each account entry will display your online status and current avatar. IM+ allows you to change your status for each individual account - even using custom stats messages. You can also manage them all at once using the Global Status feature to use one single status for all. Below your list of accounts is another list of options. These options vary, depending on the type of account. To give a couple of examples, the Twitter options include @Replies, Direct Messages, Favourites and Friends Timelines. For Google Talk, you will see a list of contacts and if they are online or offline.
The top bar of the screen displays the time (no date), signal strength and battery level. The application doesn’t indicate whether your BlackBerry is being charged or not. If there are any messages that are currently unread, a total count will be displayed as well. If you look at the top right corner, you will see two tabs. The first is for the main menu/account overview and the other displays active chats. I was glad to see that language is no longer a barrier with the included Translator+ option. Translator+ can handle translating to and from English, French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
I found IM+ possesses a smoothly designed UI, as I was able to swoosh between account and messages with ease. I had to remind myself not to get too carried away with chatting, or else I would have worn my thumbs down to the knuckles. I guess that’s why they included the speech recognition feature I mentioned earlier. It’s a monthly paid add-on that allows you to dictate your messages, rather than working with your newly stubbed thumbs. You can look at paying $1.99/month to use the service. There is a 7 day free trial available.
I also liked how easy to it was to share images, voice messages and videos with any of my contacts. If you don’t have an SMS package with your carrier, IM+ offers an alternative; 5 cents per message to most countries around the world (including Canada, US and UK). Users will receive 20 credits towards SMS to start, with more to purchase later. In the newest version of IM+, the updates include; improved multichat support for Skype and MSN Messenger and conversation history review.
IM+ provides a one stop shop for access to your social networks and chat tools. You may find some connectivity issues, both in the inability to connect at times and the inability to stop connecting with friends and family. With features like low cost SMS, dictation and media sharing, you can make sure that those you talk to will never be out of the loop. The application is on the expensive side, sitting at $39.95. There is a free version available, that doesn’t include inbox or dictation support. It is also not ad-free. Both versions are available from the CrackBerry App Store.
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