It's been awhile since I wrote about a Mac app, in fact its been 6 days since I posted something on this blog, my bad. But today, I am writing about one of my most favorite Mac app that I first used when it was launched, and the app is Flamingo. The Messages app in OS X works fine for me and since we can use it to chat with our Facebook friends too, its good to use that instead of keeping Facebook opened in a tab in the browser. But when it comes to user experience, OS X's Message app isn't the best we have, or is it? I find it a bit complex.
Flamingo is a new messaging app which allows you to chat with your Google and Facebook friends. And, this app is gorgeous. I was looking to use this app primarily since I saw its screenshots on Flamingo.im, not because of its modern and classic interface, but also for the features it had. I downloaded it after few days of launch and unfortunately, it didn't work well for me at first. I logged into my Facebook account and it froze there for infinite time, and I had to Force Close it every time. Though Google Hangouts was working fine. It was like heart breaking thing for me.
But recently, the guys behind the app, Christian Dalonzo and Indragie Karunaratne, pushed a new update and I instantly downloaded the new update. The Change-log said "Lots of Crash fixes", so I was desperate to try Flamingo 1.1.1 and was just hoping that it fixed the Freeze problem. And yes, it did fixed the problem, and I am using this lovely app all day.
When you first start the app, it shows a Welcome window which covers the app's features as you slide. When you get to the last screen in the same window where you can't slide anymore, it shows the option to login into your Facebook, Google accounts or XMPP account. XMPP is yet another protocol used for communication and messaging purposes. So, you can not only use Flamingo to chat with your Google and Facebook friends, but you can also add your XMPP account.
When you click on the Facebook or Google login option, it opens up a login page in the same window. If you are logging in the app for the first time, which I guess you probably are, then you need to allow the app to access some of your profile's data, which I think is safe. Once you log into the app, it takes some time to fetch the data. Once its done, you will see all your online friends on the left block.
Flamingo comes with modern interface, with list of online users on the left, which by default shows only the profile photo of your friends grouped by account type and expands to display the name too when you hover over the block. There's also a search box on the left block on the bottom, with the help of which you can quickly find the friend you want to chat with. The right block displays a list of active chats.
The main window expands when you click on your friend's name or photo you want to chat with on the left block. The conversations window looks classic, with messages with bubble backgrounds. You can send the same set of Emoji's that come with OS X's Message app. The app features nice transitions, specially the one when you hit the enter button to send the message.
One nice feature that comes with Flamingo app is it displays Inline media for some popular services like CloudApp, Droplr, Twitter and Instagram. So, you don't have to leave the conversation to view media from these sites. Also, it allows users to transfer file within the conversations, using Direct transfer, or with the help of CloudApp or Droplr.
While in the conversation, it notifies when the friend you are talking with goes offline, or comes online. There's a button on the bottom left on the conversation window which detaches the conversation window from the main window. Flamingo also supports full-screen view, so you can click on the expand button at the top right to switch to full-screen mode.
If you do a lot of chatting, you may be knowing how hard it is to find something from the chat history. And there's a full-fledged Mac app dedicated to finding chats from Flexbits. But with Flamingo, searching chats is easy with the Message Search and History browser. You can quickly search chats using the search icon on the top of active chats window. On clicking it, you get a new window with list of all your conversations. You can search anything quickly from this window by filtering the type of messages and you can also browse through the chats quickly.
Apart from all these features, it also supports Notification Center notifications and unread messages count in the dock icon. In the Preferences, you can enable or disable Notification Sound, choose the text size and choose whether to display the menu bar icon, the dock icon or both.
There are not many IM apps for Mac, while most users use Messages app, some third-party apps like Adium are also quite popular. This beautiful app is intuitive and comes with standard set of features. All I can say is I found it better than Messaging apps I have used till date. You can buy Flamingo for $9.99 from Mac App Store.