I reviewed Verbs when it first came out for the iPhone late last year. It was a very clean IM app, but the lack of landscape support and notifications kept me from using it in the everyday. Both of those aspects have since been addressed and I’m happy to report that the latest update to Verbs IM, which turns the app into a Universal (iPad + iPhone) app, runs beautifully.
The ultra-clean design of Verbs works quite well on the iPad, where apps like IM+ and Beejive tend to show just a few too many buttons at any one time. Granted, there is far less customization allowed in Verbs (you can’t even set Push Notifications or Offline Timouts without a $4.99 in-app purchase), but I don’t fault the developers too much in this regard because the app works beautifully with minimal set-up.
You can use Verbs to chat with friends on Gtalk, AIM, mobileme, and Facebook. You can filter contact lists by service type, or simply choose to view everyone at once. However, if there are particular people in each service that you simply love talking to then Verbs will allow you to Star them, which will anchor them to the top of your contact list for easy spamming.
Chatting in Verbs on the iPad works just like it does on the iPhone, but for the fact that you can view your contact list and chat windows simultaneously in landscape mode. Tapping on a contact will launch a new chat window, and these windows are managed much like tabs in Safari for iPhone (I’ve excluded the iPad since Safari has changed in iOS 5).
Better Chat Switching, Please
One consequence of this design choice is that chat windows can be a little unwieldy when more than four or five are open. If I’m talking to Patrick Jordan and have 10 other chat windows open, it can be a little difficult to tell who has messaged me when I receive a new alert. The only indication of new messages while within the app is a sound byte and a small page indicator (like the ones used for iOS home screens) that glows blue.
There are options to tap-and-hold on the page indicators to scrub through windows, as well as the ability to swipe horizontally between active windows, but neither solution feels sufficient for juggling several active chats.
One possible solution for this would be to simply organize the chat windows and contact avatars into a scrolling 3×4 grid formation, instead of the current linear setup. This would allow me to see at least12 chats at once and help me switch between them quickly and easily.
There are also a few smaller gaps in the Verbs IM experience that could be closed in future releases:
- Tapping on a contact – tapping on a contact currently creates or takes me to the chat window for that contact, but I’d like Verbs IM to go a step further and pop the keyboard right up for me. When I tap on a contact it’s likely because I want to respond to what they’ve said, or want to message them. Taking an extra step to tap the message field seems unnecessary.
- Tapping on a push notification – both the local and push notifications for incoming messages will bring Verbs into the foreground, but they won’t bring up the chat window for the contact who messaged me. I’m accustomed to this behaviour in other IM apps and think it just makes sense to link notifications straight to their corresponding chat windows.
Verbs IM has come a long way since its initial release last year, and it’s now a real pleasure to use on both the iPhone and the iPad, despite the minor niggles. It’s also one of the more affordable IM apps out there right now, considering its current $0.99 sale price and $4.99 in-app purchase (for push notifications), which is quite cheap for one the best messaging apps on iOS.
Verbs was provided by #includetech for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.
The Verbs in-app purchase was purchased by the author for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.