Ever since Apple introduced iMessage to its mobile and desktop operating system, I’ve been a huge fan of this service. This is mostly because majority of my friends and colleagues are also using iPhones, so we’re all using Apple’s closed ecosystem. I also understand that most people use other ways of staying in touch with their friends and family, and there are services like Facebook, Skype, Google+, Twitter, and countless more. Since Apple failed to open up its iMessage protocol, this is still a very closed and limited system, so most users are searching for some other solutions.
In today’s article we’ll review an application that is trying to replace iMessage and implement several of the most popular social networks, so you can chat with all your friends from one application. This app is called Flamingo, and you can download it from the Mac App Store for $10.
Flamingo is trying to be all-in-one instant messaging solution by supporting Facebook, Google Hangouts, and any other XMPP-based chat service. Once you open Flamingo for the first time you’ll get to sign-in with different services, which will allow this application to pull all your contacts. The good news is that this app is able of recognizing duplicate entries, so if you’ve got the same person present in two or more networks, you’ll get to see only one entry in your contacts list. Speaking of your chat buddies, they can be found in the left-positioned sidebar, which shows pictures of your contacts. If you roll over with a cursor you’ll get to see their names. This sidebar also allows you to add new contacts, and to search for a specific one.
The middle part of Flamingo’s UI is the column which shows open conversations. Simply click on any of those and you’ll get to see all messages from that specific chat in the right-positioned column. You’ll actually spend most of your time within this column, since this is where you type text and exchange messages. That’s why you can easily detach it and reposition it, which is a nice addition. What’s also important to say is that you can see in-line previews of links, videos, photos, and files. This is because Flamingo supports services like YouTube, Droplr, CloudApp, Instagram, and Twitter. It might be also interesting to know that Flamingo supports recently introduced “reply to messages” via Notification Center, which is something that OSX Mavericks brought.
Before concluding with this review, I need to clarify one thing. If you take a look at user reviews in the Mac App Store you’ll see that many OSX Mavericks users complained about serious instability and crashes. Unfortunately for Flamingo, this rating will remain even though most of these instabilities and issues are successfully resolved. I’ve used Flamingo with the latest OSX version, and I liked its performance and speed. I did experience a few crashes during the last week, but that’s nothing to worry about. Developers of Flamingo already issued several updates, so most of those initial problems are now resolved.