Free calls, videos, and live stream
Imo is a free chat app for Android phones. It allows you to make voice and video calls, as well as interact with other users, watch live streams, and share status updates. The app doesn’t offer anything new in the world of messaging but is very popular, especially in some parts of the world.
Underwhelming free chat, call, and video
Imo is a free chat, call, and video app for Android phones. It has been around quite a long time but is more popular in some countries than in others. To some readers, it will be as familiar as Skype, Telegram, and Tox but, to others, it will be relatively unknown.
Fortunately, it has end-to-end encryption but that's not exactly the app's best feature. Its calls work well enough but its performance is often unstable and the overall appeal lies more in its
Installing imo on your phone
Like other Android app installations, installing it on your phone is pretty easy. Once you've downloaded and installed the file, it will ask you for your phone number. Like WhatsApp, it identifies users by their telephone number. Once you’ve logged in, it asks for permission to access your contacts, phone, and images. Without this, you’ll have to add users manually by their telephone number, which makes the process much more complicated.
How it looks
Visually, imo is rough around the edges. It looks bare and unfinished and doesn't have any distinctive colors or designs. Even the app icon looks amateur and when you see it beside other, more famous apps, it begins to look pretty poor. Inside the app, everything seems to work as you'd expect, but there's nothing great to look at.
What imo offers
Imo is basically a chat and video calling app like Signal. It allows you to message, call, and video call your contacts. You can also call and message groups of friends and visit their profiles. Imo also has a My Story function, which is very like Instagram Stories. The interface is divided into 3 tabs. Chats, Explore, and Contacts. Chats are self-explanatory as it’s where chat messages are stored.
Explore gives you access to the apps’ more administrative functions: it’s here you’ll add new contacts, tweak the settings, and manage files you’ve received through the app, which supports lots of document formats, like DOC, MP3, ZIP, PDF, etc. The final tab, Contacts, is where you’ll invite new friends, manage calls, and create groups.
The imo profile
The profiles offered by imo are more comprehensive than other chat apps. You can add a photo and a status message, like most, as well as music, a bio, and albums. There’s also a recent visitors button, so you know who has been snooping around.
A world of live streaming
Imo has another feature that sets it apart from similar video calling apps: a live stream. In many ways, it’s another feature that we’re more used to seeing from Instagram than a chat app. You'll find other peoples’ live streams in the Explore tab, and once you enter the area, you’ll be able to search and browse by Recommended, Nearby, Language, and Country. You can follow certain users and, obviously, start your own live stream.
imoZones - an interesting feature
The app also offers imoZones, large, pre-created groups of people connected by mutual interests. The feature is only available in some countries but is a great way to make new friends and explore your hobbies if it’s available to you.
ImoZones are partially imagined as resources, as well as forms of entertainment. The app developers suggest that they could be used for exams, for example, with everyone going to take a certain exam able to share resources and tips.
There’s also a more general concept of chat rooms, like MySpace chat rooms back in the day, as well as a feature called Friend's World. Friends World is only available in certain countries, so we couldn’t check it out, but it seems to be a kind of central hub for stories that anyone can see.
imoLevels means more gamification
Finally, imo also offers levels. In other words, you get points as you spend time on the app. As you build up points, you rise up through the imo levels. The app makers say the higher your level, the more fun you have, but they don’t tell us exactly what kind of fun we might be having. In fact, that's something we noticed throughout the app.
The imo developers don't really give you much information in advance and it's not clear what the different app features do. The website is really bare, and it's hard to know what's going on without just jumping into the imo experience. If you're familiar with the app from those around you, this won't be a problem, but users new to the imo world could do with a little more encouragement.
Do we really need another chat app?
It’s a valid question. imo seems to be aimed at users in and around certain geographical areas, so perhaps if that’s the kind of content you’re looking for, it is a good option. For the rest of us, though, it seems pretty unnecessary, and not the nicest-looking chat app around.
Another unnecessary chat app for Android
imo is trying to do it all. Somewhere between WhatsApp and Instagram, it offers lots of features that other apps don’t - live chat, gamification, chat rooms, and more. Even so, all these features are no good if you don’t really need them. That’s the overall feeling we get from this: it's trying hard but nothing it offers is necessary or even the best version you're going to find.
If stories are your jam, for example, you'll probably prefer Instagram, as it has more filters and features and many more people in the audience. If you’re particularly interested in or active in the countries imo is focused on, maybe your friends are on the network, which would make it a sensible choice. If not, imo isn’t going to keep your attention.