Spotted in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013, Uni Messenger is a new cross-platform mobile messaging application that lets you chat privately with friends on a variety of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, VK, Mixi, Cyworld, and now, the team is working to add support for Google+ and several others.
The company was founded just this June by David Huning Dai, a Columbia Computer Science grad, and previously founder of social network analytics service JoyRec, along with Joe Huaqiao Chiu, who had been working on a cross social networking communications platform in China back in 2011.
Today, Uni Messenger has eight full-time employees, and nearly a dozen part time staff based in San Francisco.
The service, expected to launch in October (for early access, see below), is a downloadable application being built for Android first which combines all your social networking contacts into one address book. This part of the service is similar to a number of competing social address book apps, like Brewster, Cobook, Addappt, and others. But once installed, users will be able to message their friends on the various social networks using just the app.
Uni Messenger takes advantage of the social networks’ APIs, when it can, in order to send the messages to the friend’s private inbox on the site in question (e.g. a Twitter Direct Message, a LinkedIn email), but to what extent that’s actually possible is determined by the social networks’ APIs and policies. For example, on Facebook, you can send a message, but recipients will have to download the Uni Messenger app in order to read it. This part, of course, will need to be handled carefully by the young statup, otherwise friends may assume that Uni Messenger notifications are some sort of Facebook app spam.
However, once a user’s friends are on the service, they can take advantage of various standard messaging app features, like group chat (called “Circles”), photo and location sharing and more. Future features currently planned include voice and video calls, SMS and email support, multi-language support, gesture controls, and the addition of other globally popular social networks like Google+,VK, Netlog, Mixi, Cyworld, RenRen, Xing, Skyrock, Orkut and more.
One of the more intriguing features, the company explains, will be the ability to reach out to your contacts second-degree connections on LinkedIn through Uni Messenger – a feature that typically you have to route through LinkedIn itself by asking for an introduction or paying for InMail. Because the app has yet to publicly launch, it’s not yet possible to test this particular option for ourselves. But even if LinkedIn decides to shut down Uni Messenger’s ability to do this (it doesn’t sound like something they’d want, given the revenue from InMail), the app has promise as one of the first cross-platform, cross social network mobile messaging clients out there. And if they’re able to bundle in SMS, phone and video support – well, that’s ambitious – but potentially very interesting, as well.
TechCrunch readers can try out Uni Messenger first when it launches. To get on the list, leave your email address at Uniott.com, and the company will send out a beta version to the first 100 subscribers. For latecomers, they’ll simply be alerted when Uni Messenger is publicly released. More to come.