There seems to be no shortage of Instant Messaging apps in the Android market these days. A simple search will come up with apps like eBuddy, Meebo, IMO, IMEasy etc. Well, IM+ is yet another instant messaging app. IM+ from Shape Services has to be the most extensive messaging app that I have had the opportunity to use and believe me, I have pretty much tried them all.

IM+ is an all-in-one Instant Messaging solution. One of the greatest features of this application is that there is no longer a need to be running multiple chat applications at the same time. Everything you might need is right there in IM+, all wrapped up into one well rounded application. It is a simple idea but very well executed in IM+. If you are the kind of social butterfly that enjoys chatting with several friends or co workers at one time, then this app is essential for you.

For those who are coming from the iPhone, you will know that IM+ is one of the most popular IM apps in the Apple App Store. It supports Twitter, Facebook, Skype, push notifications, and many more unique and useful features. So how does the IM+ for Android stack up against the competition? Can it stand out in a somewhat crowded corner of the market? Let’s have a look, shall we?

After initial install, the first thing you’ll want to do is to add your IM accounts. Current networks supported by IM+ include MSN, Skype, Facebook, AOL, Gtalk, Yahoo, Jabber, ICQ and mySpace. There is no Twitter support for the Android version of the app yet, despite it being available on the iPhone version.Once you have all of your IM accounts setup and configured, you will find all of your contacts listed in a single window. In this list, an icon identifying the network each user is on will appear next to each user in the list. Keeping it clear who’s on which network.


User Interface

In my honest opinion, IM+ Probably has the nicest user interface of all of the IM apps. The contact list fills up the whole screen, without wasting any space with useless designs or borders. Another plus, is that the font size is big enough to read with ease and the thumbnail pictures of your contacts are crisp and clear. Any incoming chat will be moved to the top of the window to make it easy to access. If the app is not active, you will also receive a notification in your status bar.

Chat Interface
Each conversation is well arranged and also color coded for easy navigation. For MSN Live Messenger, you can even start a group chat. This is one feature not available in most IM apps. It also supports a good range of emoticons.
Another outstanding feature of IM+, is how you can set your visibility for each account. For example, you want to chat with your sister on Facebook but aren’t crazy about the idea of chatting with chatty Aunt Kathy on AOL? IM+ lets you control which accounts are running and who you want to talk to.
Also a great and original feature I liked, is the ability to view and export your History log. As someone who switches between different computers and mobile devices, I hold conversations with different people at different times, on different devices. In order to track the conversation, I have to sync my history logs so they appear on all the devices and screens that I am using. Most mobile IM apps don’t have a history log, let alone the ability to export them. With IM+, you can easily export the history log to, let’s say a Dropbox account, and access it from your desktop at any time.

Some features and Settings:
Set a custom status

Many IM apps only come with the usual “Online” and “Away” status, but IM+ comes with “Online”, “Away”, “I am here”, “Invisible”, “Offline”. What’s even better, is you can create your own custom status very easily within the app.
Create your own custom message templates
Another great feature would be that IM+ allows you to create custom message templates that you can use at any time (such as, “I am busy now. Talk to you later”).

– Whether to show offline contacts
– Change status
– Show or not show the current conversations
– Whether to show groups
– Whether to show the date and time before each message
– Send messages using the “enter” key
– Whether or not to show the icon IM+ in the notification bar
– Whether to display notifications of messages received in a small window at the bottom of the screen
– Enable or disable the vibrate mode and / or audio notifications for new posts
– Activate the “Text to Speech”
– Enable or disable the battery saving function. A message that if you enable this feature, you will be disconnected when unit goes into standby
– Long press on a contact: delete, block and / or rename the contact, view conversation history and view the contact info

Usefulness:
Nowadays, it can be a complex task to chat and stay in touch with each and every buddy, pal, or friend, with them each using a different IM or chat application to stay connected. IM+ brings all these and more into one application, saving you the trouble and device’s resources of having to run multiple programs to stay in touch with everyone.

Ease of Use:
IM+ is pretty effortless to use and to setup. You simply connect to your accounts, select your contacts and you can begin chatting right away. It also allows you to handle multiple chats on different accounts at the same time, saving you the hassle of switching between different applications for each conversation.
The user interface is laid out very well. It makes sense to use and therefore is very intuitive to operate. It gives you direct access to what’s important for usage and doesn’t complicate things with unneeded settings and options. I would say that a lot of time was spent designing how this app can bring all of the important features of a good chat or IM client to you, in one small, easy to use, application. To switch between your contacts, chat streams and accounts, you just simply slide from side to side. The overall experience was very good. No bogging down and no major glitches that I experienced.


Pros & Cons:

Pros

• All IM chats in one simple application.
• Easy to use interface.
• Smooth, intuitive UI
• Group Conversations on Skype and MSN.
• Can run in the background.
• Good range of connection options.
• Status settings.
• Geolocation.
• Handles all major IM and chat accounts.
• Custom notification settings
• Newly added support for image and audio sharing.**

Cons

• Well, I had just a couple cons originally. However, by the time I was done doing this review, my biggest con was taken care of with an update from IM+. You can now share images and audio files within the application, something that was not possible before. Now if we could just see other file types added to this feature, I would say there is nothing left out.

IM+ is available in the Android market in both the Free and Pro version. Both versions are essentially the same except that the free version is ad-supported and the paid version helps support the developers and helps keep them motivated to bring us such great software.

Changelog

Version 4.1
• Contact list search
• Photo and sound files sending
• Multi-accounts for Facebook
• User interface improvements
• Customizable chat font size
• IM+ auto launch upon Android device starting
• Emoticons disabling
• Chinese Traditional localization
• Many bugfixes, tweaks and overall improvements

Is IM+ the application for you? If you like chatting on multiple platforms, this app could save you a lot of time and aggravation trying to manage multiple chats with different friends on different messaging platforms. IM+ is quite simple to use and a pleasure compared to most other messaging apps I’ve used. So, if you are the type that likes staying in touch with your social network accounts and chats on your handheld, IM+ is the must have application for you.


Shape Services


IM+ Pro

IM+