It was almost exactly two years ago that my colleague Robin Wauters first wrote about a service called Imo with the title: IMO.IM Is The Best IM Web Service You’ve Never Heard Of. I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen to him at the time (though, to be fair, I didn’t even work at TechCrunch yet). He followed up a few months later when the service added Facebook chat support. But since then, they sort of dropped off our radar. So it’s time tonight to give them some more love, because the service really is pretty great — and after three years in alpha, they’re finally dropping that label.
The idea is super simple: Imo is an IM client that allows you to sign in to many different types of IM accounts at once, all managed through their service. Obviously, there are many services like this out there. But the key to Imo is that it’s fast and easy to use. I mean really easy. All you have to do is enter your user name and passwords for the different services and you’re off and running in a way that’s very seamless.
And they’ve just launched a complete redesign of their web experience. It actually makes the service even easier to use. Now Imo on the web sort of looks like a blank canvas just waiting to be filled up with chats. Chats that you can drag and drop to position anywhere in your window on the browser. And like the new version of Gmail launched today, Imo.im can send you desktop notifications for new chats. And like their mobile clients, you can now send instant voice messages of up to 30 seconds in length as well (another feature that has fascinated me recently).
That’s the other key to Imo.im: their great mobile clients. Whether you have an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, Imo offers a nice, simple way to connect with all your various chat services. Below, find a demo of the iPad app in action.
While it may seem a bit odd that the service has been up and running for three years and is just now dropping the alpha label, remember that one of the Imo co-founders is Georges Harik, one of the first 10 employees at Google. He’s learned well.