On Monday, instant messaging service imo.im added free voice calls to its iPhone app, a feature that's been available in its Android app since February. In CIO.com blogger James A. Martins tests, call quality was good.
I appreciate just about any app that can help me reduce my wireless bill, which is approaching federal-budget-deficit levels. And so I was quick to download and install instant-messaging aggregator imo.im’s updated iOS app, released Monday.
The imo iOS app (free; current version is 3.2) combines multiple IM services, including Skype, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger and AIM. But the iOS app now also lets you make and receive free calls over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G connections to people in your imo contacts. Though the feature is new to imo’s iPhone app, its Android app has had voice calling for several months.
In my tests, voice quality was impressive. In fact, it was hard to tell the difference between an imo app call and any other iPhone call. If you travel frequently, imo could help you reduce your carrier’s voice-minutes plan, as long as you keep a few caveats in mind. You’d need to rely on a Wi-Fi connection for your imo calls to not eat into your minutes. And the person you’re calling needs to be an imo user as well.
The imo app also lets you do group messaging; group photo shares; send multimedia attachments; and have concurrent sessions on different devices and on the service’s website.
Of course, imo isn’t the only free-calling app. Skype offers similar functionality, as do Viber (for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry) and Nimbuzz (for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Symbian). Viber also offers free SMS messages, and Nimbuzz allows you to communicate using popular chat services.
Still, I really like the imo iPhone and Android apps. Its voice-calling and IM services are integrated nicely in a simple interface. And you can’t beat the price: free.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.