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imo.im Quietly Building One Solid Multi-Network Instant Messaging App

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When I first covered imo.im back in February, I wrote it was one of the best Web apps for instant messaging you’d likely never heard of, and chances are you’ve forgotten all about it since then. To be honest, so had I, but the team got in touch last week to let us know it had added some useful new features to the service over the past few months and that we should give it another look. We aim to please, so here goes.

Imo.im is a multi-network IM tool, which means you can use it to log on to multiple messaging services like Windows Live Messenger / MSN, AIM / ICQ, MySpace, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber, Gtalk and even Skype and get a single, complete contact list from inside your browser and chat with people on your list using text, voice or video. It also boasts a basic desktop client, which is unfortunately still Windows-only.

Recently, imo.im added Facebook Chat to its list of supported IM services, which was about the only one it sorely lacked when I first wrote about the app. Now that its supports chat sessions with your Facebook friends as well, it’s more than ever a close competitor to better-known startups who offer web-based IM clients like Meebo and eBuddy Webmessenger. And it supports Skype chat in addition to the classic ones, which – correct me if I’m wrong – I have yet to see integrated in any other web-based application (note that apps for mobile devices like fring and Nimbuzz support Skype chat).

Also new in imo.im is a ‘broadcast’ feature that allows users to send free messages out to other imo.im users (e.g. job openings, chat invitations, etc.) and a complementary photo sharing service that allows people to share images with other users across all networks. Finally, the startup is experimenting with a ‘whiteboard’ feature that enables users to work on diagrams, drawings and more with each other. Next up: perfecting the service’s search and chat history functionality.

Also on the roadmap is an iPhone application, which the startup aims to put up on the App Store in the coming weeks (we’ll be watching).

The company, which was co-founded by Georges Harik – one of the first 10 employees at Google and manager of several of its early products – claims it has so far attracted half a million users to try out its service even though it’s still in alpha mode looking at the logo.

Give it a whirl – no registration or download required – and tell us what you think.

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