IM+ v2.0

Not long ago I wrote about how awesome Nimbuzz is because it’s totally free and supports a bunch of different instant messaging platforms. Free apps like Nimbuzz and IM+ Lite provide plenty of chat functionality for very casual users, but maybe you need more than that. Maybe IM is how you stay connected to your office… maybe you’ve got hot gossip that needs spreading… or maybe you’ve just gone off the deep end and insist on being wired 24/7. Whatever your reason for wanting to be “online” even when you’re not running an IM app, IM+ v2.0 is the heavy-duty solution you’re looking for.

This constant availability is accomplished through something called “IM Push”… you can input an email address in the options panel, set “Keep IM services connected on exit” to On… and when you close IM+ you’ll remain signed in on whatever instant messengers you’re using! Go ahead… play games, lock the iPhone, do whatever. If someone tries to message you, IM Push will send you an email with the incoming chat message, and you can reply to the email as if you’re actually using a chat window.

Chances are you won’t want to conduct entire conversations via email, but the point is that you no longer have to run an IM app in order to be available.

IM+ v2.0 also lets you share your location, send photos and voice messages, and it also lets you set your status to invisible which is pretty sweet. Only problem is that status changes are applied to everything, so if you want to be invisible to the douchebags on your AOL buddy list, you’ll also be invisible (or online, away, offline) to the people you actually like on Yahoo. The workaround for this is pretty easy, though – just turn off whichever messenger you don’t feel like using; all it takes is a flip of a toggle switch.

Both the Lite and full versions of IM+ support AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, and MySpace, and if you want Facebook you’ll need the full version… and as far as I’m concerned the only chat program missing from the list is Skype, but that’s because SHAPE Services has a separate IM+ app that supports Skype only and its calling features.

I still plan on keeping Nimbuzz around because it supports Skype, so for this reason I wish SHAPE would add at least a barebones Skype to IM+ v2.0. Something else I would love for it to do is respect Yahoo!’s “stealth” settings (and any other messenger’s stealth settings). Yahoo! allows you to set your status for individual contacts, ie: always show Bob that I’m “busy”, but unfortunately if you’re online via IM+ you’re online to everyone.

Otherwise, this app is still pretty impressive and the IM Push will probably make business users and uber-nerds giddy with excitement. I’ll concede that $9.99 is a pretty steep pricetag for IM’ing but, unless someone else produces their own equally-kickass IM Push solution, you’ll just have to cough up the cash if being Always On is important to you.

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