Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tech Column: All in One Messaging

by Bill Adler

I understand why people give up their land lines. It's not necessarily because it's less expensive to have just a cell phone, though that's often cause enough. It's because it's a pain to have to deal with two separate phones. Ring, ring: You have to dash toward one phone or another.

The same condition exists for messaging. There's Facebook messaging for this new, brave socially networked world. But there are people who've held onto their AOL messenger address all these years. There's Skype for the international set, and there's Google Talk (now Google Hangouts) that seems to work everywhere. There's Yahoo, Linkedin and Twitter, all of which are used for messaging. (Kudos to Facebook, by the way, for making their messenger service work on other platforms. That's not something you'd expect the Keeper of the Walled Garden to do.)

If you want to be able to keep in touch with everyone, it feels like you need a dozen different messenger programs or apps. Fortunately, it only just feels that way. There are some excellent multi-messenger apps that let you send and receive messages on just about every messenger service at the same time. I use one called Trillian, www.trillian.im, but I've also dabbled in IM+, www.plus.im, and IMO, www.imo.im, all of which I can recommend. If you chat with people on more than one messaging service, do yourself a favor and get an app that does them all.

I should add one footnote. Messaging services like Google Hangouts and Skype are different from text messaging services such as Viber, Whatsapp and Line. These new services were invented to make it possible to text phone to phone without paying huge text messaging fees. These services, which have evolved since then to include things like the ability to send voice messages and stickers, can't be used with a multi-messenger program like Trillian: You have to use the app. But if you're using traditional messaging services, ones that predate the iPhone, then a multi-messaging program will work just fine.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft, "Outwitting Squirrels," http://amzn.to/VXuLBh, and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. His tech column is published on Tuesdays.

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