This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: The Best Instant Messaging Apps. Additional details may be found in the original article.
WebMessenger (Free) is yet another multi-platform IM application for the iPhone and iPod touch that requires the user to sign up for the company’s own service. In our testing, the initial account set up was quite lengthy, and included mandatory entry of the user’s phone number, something we found to be completely unacceptable. The app itself uses a bottom-tabbed interface to allow users to switch between chat, info, and setting screens. Using the settings screen, users can turn options for audible alerts and show offline contacts on and off, and set up different accounts—the app supports Jabber, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo!. Once an account has been set up, the user needs to tap on their username and tap a button to import their buddy list in order for their contacts to appear in WebMessenger, a process that strikes us as being more complex than necessary. The info screen simply shows the user’s WebMessenger account information, along with a button to edit said info.
Like many of its competitors, WebMessenger lists all available contacts (and those offline, if the setting is turned on) for all available services in one big list, with a button to toggle the user’s status and an edit button at the top. Tapping on a contact opens a new chat window, with a navigation bar at the top offering a back button, a button to view the current user’s info, and a clear all messages button. While WebMessenger does notice incoming URLs, underlining them and displaying them as links, the links don’t work. An empty text field at the bottom of the page brings up the keyboard, with buttons for emoticons on the left and a chat bubble button for sending the message to the right. Messages are displayed in the main portion of this screen inside bubbles reminiscent of Apple’s SMS and iChat applications.
While it does allow for multi-platform chatting, we did not like WebMessenger’s overly-complex sign-up procedure, nor the mandatory submission of a telephone number — luckily, we were able to use the old standby 555-555-5555. The process of adding new chat accounts is similarly complicated, with users having to manually import their buddy lists for each service. A simplified, less demanding setup process and the addition of features found on competing apps — such as the ability to send photos and/or audio messages — would go a long way to improve WebMessenger, which currently falls short of even our limited recommendation. iLounge Rating: C.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhones, iPod touches