iPhone App Review: TalkRoom

iPhone App Review: TalkRoom

October 17th, 2011 by

Staying in touch with friends can be a full-time job in and of itself, especially if your contacts are spread across several social networks with competing instant messaging platforms. iOS 5’s new notification system can help keep dozens of chat notifications organized and easier to understand than the old way, but having it all under one app roof would be easier.

TalkRoom – The 7-in-1 Instant Messenger takes your Facebook, MSN, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo!, Jabber, and ICQ (people still use that?) and places them all under the same chat interface. Set up all of your accounts under TalkRoom and conduct all of your chats in one place, including having access to each accounts’ contact list. Chat history, custom status for every account, and a built-in web browser make your chat experience easier and more elegant.

How It Works

The interface has three main sections: Accounts, Contacts, and Chats. There is also of course a settings icon on the Accounts screen, where you can make some basic adjustments to the app’s behavior.

From the Accounts screen you can add and delete instant messaging accounts. Hit “Edit” and then the plus sign and you’re taken to the Add Account screen. Tap the logo and you can choose from the list of chat services, then enter your login credentials and hit “Done” and you’re all set. There are also three switches that control push notifications, history, and a “Login On Start” option. You can turn each of these on or off when you create the account, or adjust them later from the same screen.

The Contacts screen shows your contacts grouped by either online status or account name (hit the “Regroup” button in the corner to toggle). The dot next to the contact’s name will show either green, yellow, or red to indicate chat status, and a small logo will appear by their avatar to show what service their name was pulled from.

The Chats screen shows all of your open or prior chats, which remain until you  delete them. When you’re in a chat you can open and follow links using the app’s built-in web browser.

Pros And Cons

TalkRoom gets most everything right with their chat app. The web browser is especially welcome, since one of the main issues that always frustrated me about chatting on my phone was having to bounce out of the chat app to follow links (or having to switch over to a real computer). I also love the contact list, with its full access to people from every account I’ve provided. Facebook, MSN, and Google all have their own dedicated chat options available in their respective apps or web interfaces, but having it all in one place is ideal.

The only feature that needs to be added is the lack of presence in the new Notification Center for iOS 5. You access this by swiping down from the top of the screen, and can see all of your notifications and be taken directly to the respective app with a tap (or clear all notifications with another tap, if they’re old news). While TalkRoom has push and local notifications, not having them appear in the notification center is an open invitation to missing or forgetting one after it’s been seen.

Overall

TalkRoom is a great little chat app that brings together all of your chat accounts under one iOS app. For the power instant messaging user it’s probably a must-have app. The lack of notification center integration is not a deal-breaker, since that’s a feature that’s only existed for a few weeks anyway, but hopefully the developers include that in a future update.

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