Wednesday, October 31, 2007

imo.im - My One Day Review

Today, I turned off my stand alone IM clients and used imo.im exclusively as part of my web based IM review which I discussed yesterday.

imo.im has gotten press attention recently for being one of the first web based IM systems to support video chatting. I tested this feature briefly and it seemed to work quite well. I was impressed.

Overall, I give imo.im a 5 out of 10. They're halfway there with a great product that definitely still needs some work. But it very blatantly bears the "alpha" tag, so they know they have things to improve.

Their system is very easy to figure out. You go to the site and are presented with one log in box. You check off which IM service you want to log into (they support AIM, Yahoo, MSN, and Google Talk) and then click Sign On. The system signs on and then displays a check box for that account. If you sign into all four accounts, you will be shown four check boxes. To log out of any given account, just uncheck the box. Check it again to log back in, no password needed. Very slick.

Once you're logged in to one or more accounts, your Buddy List is displayed on the right side of the window. It doesn't sort buddies by IM system, which would have been nice, but the icons were different depending on which system they came from.

Chatting was straight forward and easy...click on someone's name and a box appears for chatting. The chat boxes and buddy list can all be moved around within the window...pretty standard stuff here. It all worked very fast and was definitely functional.

It lacked a few features, however. Namely, the way it alerts you to new messages needs some work. It plays a very quiet sound that sounds like a person whistling and the new chat box turns orange. But if I've navigated to a different tab, or moved that window to the back, I'll never notice the orange...therefore, the sound needs to be louder. Ideally, it should be customizable (right now the only option is on or off).

Also, it had no recognition system for smiley faces. It just kept the straight characters like :-) Now, whoever you're chatting with on the other end is probably using a stand alone program, so they'll see your smiley's just fine. But if someone sends one to me, I don't see anything special. At least have it change color the way the Google Talk client does.

It would have been nice, too, to be able to express things with bold or italics. Even Google Talk allows this, though it doesn't have a rich text editing toolbar...users who know what they're doing simply use _underscores_ or *stars* to achieve the desired effect. imo.im offered none of this functionality.

Overall, I liked the program and I'm excited to see what they do with it in the future. But the way it is now, I won't be using it on a regular basis. Too many missing features.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I'll be using Meebo for the day. Should be interesting! :-)