imo is an instant messenger app and communication tool developed by imo.im for computers and mobile devices. It is one of the many apps out there and is quite far behind the major players in the market such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype. In order to remain in the game, it gambles on its free high-quality video and voice calls. It is a good app for video calls, with decent quality given all necessary conditions for good VoIP calling are there, and scores quite high on Google Play and Apple App Store. Its downside is that it has an interface that is just too basic and lacks some features that its competitors have.
Setting Up imo
imo is relatively quite light for download, with a little bit more than 5 MB. This is quite convenient for low-end mobile phones with limited memory. The site offers a link to Google Play for Android devices, another for Apple machines, and a third for the apk (format for manual installation). Once installed, you are prompted to enter your phone number, against verification through a code that is sent to you via SMS. When I installed imo, I received the SMS after three hours, but fortunately, the system does some automatic checking so that it does not require the code. Basically, installation is WhatsApp style.
Your contacts are loaded from your device’s contact list. In my case, only a handful of contacts were already registered imo users, given that the app is not as popular as those mentioned above. For all other contacts on the phone, there is an invite button.
While the interface is smooth and light, it is quite basic. You get the feeling of being squeezed into something limiting your access. There are only two panes, one for chats and one for contacts. The app offers easy and quick actions on contacts, with a minimum of touches. However, this also proves to be inconvenient since you can easily end up calling someone you didn’t really want to call. Beware when trying stickers; while exploring them, I found myself accidentally sending a sticker with a teddy bear and red hearts to a guy that isn’t much of the like to receive them! In a word, the interface is narrow and restrictive.
imo offers unlimited free text messaging over an Internet connection. Just like any other app.
The main attraction is free unlimited high-quality voice and video calling. While poor conditions may render the calls short of being high quality, there is a noticeably better quality with video calls compared to other apps of the like. It is definitely better on video calling than Viber.
The app allows you to share photos and videos. It also offers free stickers, which is the craze of the moment on instant messaging apps. This is becoming kind of a must have on these apps.
It offers group chat, but does not have a separate tab for groups and the group creation. The settings for groups are quite limited.
imo allows you to connect with users of other networks. Well, this is so far for me only theory. I believe it to be something great to be able to communicate throughout platforms. This way, you could, for instance, take advantage of the quality of imo’s video calls and enjoy the presence of the huge amount of users in apps like WhatsApp and Skype. But imo has seen doors close in front of it, as gradually, the big players with huge user bases eliminated the possibility of third party apps to access their networks. So now, imo is more geared towards banking on its own network and service to make a name of its own and build a user base of its own. The number of registered users nowadays determines the success of instant messaging apps. Which brings us to why everything is free on imo and how they make money. Well, they do not have a business model so far and are focused solely on building some muscles before thinking of monetization.
Chats and calls are encrypted in imo, or so they say. There is no more information about it. Besides, imo does not give much information officially on its website. The details present on Google Play and App Store are all we have. But this is better than no encryption at all. If you are serious about your privacy, check these secure communication apps.
One serious drawback with the app is the lack of configuration settings and tweaks that allow a person to personalize or optimize their use of the tool. For instance, on some platforms, you cannot change notifications, cannot mute, cannot block users etc. The service also introduced some new features recently (Stories: Friends of Friends and Explore) that can increase the amount of unwanted communications you receive.
imo is a good and decent tool for video calling and voice chatting. Unless it brings hundreds of millions of users into its base, it will still be running up or trying. But it is a serious candidate for personal communication with friends and family, or for business. It is completely free and not heavy, so it doesn’t hurt to have it on your device.