A Google Chat App for Your iPhone: Monal IM

I use Gmail chat on my computer extensively to talk with students, answering quick questions, and troubleshooting issues they might have. I’ve convinced them that using this method is far faster and easier than writing, sending, reading, and responding to multiple emails. However, I’m not always on my computer and want to be able to remain connected as much as possible when I’m mobile. Thus, the need to use my iPhone to connect to Gmail Chat.

It should be easy, right? Well, if you are an iPhone user, you probably already know that Google does not offer a decent mobile app for their Gmail Chat service. I’ve tried going to http://google.com/talk on my iPhone using Safari browser and am redirected to a help page for Google Chat. Hm . . .

How about using the Google+ app on the iPhone? Problem with this is you can only chat using their Messenger feature, which means you can only chat with your Google+ circles Again, not very useful. 😦

Up until this point, I’ve been using Meebo on my iPhone and iPad, which has worked ok, but I really dislike their interface and colors. Guess I’ve been using Apple products to long! Then, I read that Google purchased Meebo (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405581,00.asp), which is shutting down on July 11, so it’s time to delete yet another app.

Today, I read a great blog post “Getting Google Talk on the iPhone” http://www.felocity.com/article/getting_google_talk_on_the_iphone and experimented with some of the tools suggested.

I’ve decided to try using Monal IM (http://monal.im/) for several reasons:

  1. It works.
  2. It’s free.
  3. Interface is clean and simple to use.
  4. NO ADS! This is a huge plus for me–I just cannot stand those ads that hide part of my screen.
  5. Connects directly using XMPP, a protocol that is supposed to offer better security, real-time push notification, and was designed for online chatting. For more about XMPP, read this: http://onesocialweb.org/developers-xmpp.html
  6. And probably the best reason of all with the new iPhone’s voice to text feature: YOU CAN SEND YOUR MESSAGES BY TALKING. I’m probably going to be using my iPhone even when I’m on the computer, since voice to text is so much faster than typing.

I can see only one drawback–since it uses no third-party service to connect, you need to have the app open on your mobile device for it to work. I’ll keep experimenting with various mobile apps to use IM to communicate, but so far, this looks like an app I won’t be deleting soon.

What are you using for an IM client on your iPhone? I’d love to hear some of your experiences and recommendations.


3 thoughts on “A Google Chat App for Your iPhone: Monal IM

  1. Wish I could give you another app to use but I too use Monal as well. I use Google chat to talk to clients because like you said it is much easier to have a quick 1-2 minute chat instead of having an email exchange that lasts 15 minutes. i wonder if they will ever incorporate iMessage with Google chat.


  2. Hi, I’m the developer of Monal. Thanks for the kind words. Just a quick note, I’ve been working on the connectivity issues in Monal and the next release will run completely in the background and support voice chat.


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