With society pushing us to be online and available in our every waking moment, it is hardly surprising that there are a plethora of instant messaging programs available for PDAs and mobile phones. IM+ offers connection to a wide range of networks without becoming too bloated or over-complex. The first thing we noticed after installing IM+ was the simplicity of its user interface. As soon as the program opens, you can get to work configuring your accounts. IM+ lets you access the popular MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, AOL (AIM), Jabber and Google Talk networks, meaning that whoever you need to stay in touch with, IM+ will be able to help you out.
On Windows applications featuring such a range of connectivity, it’s normal to see a complex list of options when the configuration process starts. IM+ simplifies the process of setting up your accounts, and beyond message alerts, contains practically no options to configure. This may put off more advanced users who enjoy tinkering with their accounts but we thought it was a good move on the part of Shape Services (IM+’s creators). The only problem we noticed when setting up our account details was that the ‘backspace’ key on our device’s touch screen keyboard didn’t work. This is of course a small issue, but it slowed us down when we made a mistake.
The contact list display (or ‘Roster’) in IM+ should be immediately recognisable to anyone who’s used an instant messenger service before. Giving you the choice of whether to view all your contacts or just those online, IM+ also sorts your contacts by groups if requested. Selecting an online contact immediately initiates a chat with them, while the holding your stylus on the contact will provide some limited options referring to that contact, such as ‘rename’, ‘delete’ and ‘info’. We were disappointed that ‘info’ didn’t try to display a contact’s full profile rather than just their email address. We thought that a more full extract of the contact’s online profile would have been useful, at least including their birthday, homepage and interests.
Entering the text for sending messages was simple enough. As usual, we found the Transcriber feature to be the easiest and most accurate method of text entry, but this is very much a matter of personal preference for the individual user. IM+ also allows you to copy and paste text from other applications into your chat window; particularly useful if you’re using the program to collaborate on a work project, or even just to send your friend a link. IM+ also supports the most popular emoticons for instant messaging, for those times when words just can’t convey your feelings.
Up against some stiff competition, IM+ is an excellent chat program for your Pocket PC. While it has a couple of small issues and omissions, it is easy to use, relatively small and very stable. In other words, an excellent way of staying in contact even when you’ve got a good excuse not to!