One Palringo to rule iPhone IM?

Multi-instant messaging client Palringo's new iPhone app makes it the first mutli-protocol compliant app for the Apple device. It also sports some useful iPhone-specific features, but it's not an IM panacea by a long shot.

Palringo's the first multi-chat protocol app for the iPhone. (Credit: Palringo)

The new iPhone app from Palringo brings an official multi-instant messaging client to the Apple device. It supports eight chat protocols and includes some useful iPhone-specific features, but also suffers from several irritating limitations.

Palringo can handle Apple iChat, AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, Gadu Gadu, ICQ, Jabber, and Windows Live Messenger. Assuming you've got no problems with the iPhone keyboard, creating a profile for one of these accounts is as simple as selecting the proper icon and typing in your username and password. First, though, you must set up a Palringo account. Not to worry: when you open the Palringo app for the first time, it will redirect you to their Web site for registration.

When you receive a message, it gets dumped into the universal in-box at the bottom left corner of the screen. This may sounds chaotic, but I was surprised at how well it worked. The camera feature worked flawlessly, too. When you select a contact to chat with, tap the camera icon in the lower right corner and you can either take a fresh photo that will be instantly sent, or send an already-saved photo from your album.

However, do note that the photo gets uploaded to Palringo's servers and stored there for 10 days. Users must then download images to keep them. Click here to see the image that Jason Parker sent me from his iPhone.

Palringo offers a variety of status options, but no clear way to log out of one client. (Credit: Palringo)

The big hang-up, if you'll forgive the pun, is that the app doesn't offer a way to sign out of an account once it's been created. You can change the status of an account to Invisible, Busy, or Away, with the default status being Online, but there's no way to be logged in to your AIM but not your ICQ.

Also, since the iPhone can currently use only one app at a time, you must be running the app to receive new messages. The phone vibrates when it does, but that won't do you much good without having the app always on. The promised voice-chat feature has yet to be implemented, too.

Even with these drawbacks, for people who don't have a jailbroken phone Palringo offers a solid and Apple-approved way to get access to all your IMs at once.