Yahoo Messenger is a popular chat client with millions of users. It is available on most popular desktop and mobile platforms. So this week when I read fellow Cultist, Eli Milchman’s, news post about the big app upgrade that brought video calling over 3G or Wi-Fi I was excited about trying it out. However, that excitement quickly died off after Eli and I started to test it out. Needless to say today there is one less Yahoo Messenger user than there was before.
That user is me and you can find out why by reading the rest of my review.
What’s good about it?
One of the good things I can say about Yahoo Messenger is that it is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and any iOS device. That availability means you can chat while at home or on the go with practically anyone, even if they are on a different platform.
Now you can communicate with someone via text, voice, and video chat using the iOS version of Messenger over 3G or Wi-Fi. So it offers a lot of features and options that make communicating with people a bit more convenient.
It’s also free.
Sadly not all versions of the Messenger client support the same features and this is where things start to come apart.
What’s bad about it?
The iOS version of Messenger could not initiate video calls with people using the Mac OS X desktop client, but it would work between Windows and iOS device users just fine. The reason for this is that the Mac OS X Messenger client is still in beta – a version 3.0 beta to boot. It’s been in beta so long I often wonder when we will see a release version. Needless to say it doesn’t support video calls and it hasn’t been updated in a long time.
Messenger for iOS has an interface that is by far the worst I’ve seen on any iPhone app. It just isn’t very intuitive at all. While we tested the new video feature we struggled to get a video call going. It was hard to get going because we had to dig around before finding the right button to make the video call. Yahoo needs to take a serious look at these interface problems and consider revising the apps interface.
Yahoo needs to take a serious look at the Messenger platform and decide about where it is headed. Right now I don’t think it is headed in the right direction. If something isn’t done soon Yahoo may end up as an also ran against other messaging platforms.
One such platform is Apple’s FaceTime which is already in the hands of millions of iPhone 4 and iPod touch users. Soon it just might be in the hands of everyone owning a Mac or maybe even a PC. If that happens people will probably completely forget about Yahoo Messenger.
Apple’s iChat on Mac OS X does video, voice, and text chat very well and I’m sure that even a version of that app with FaceTime support will be a big winner. Port it to Windows and Apple will have a home run right out of the ball park.
Yahoo needs to wake up and work these problems out between the different platforms. They need to make sure that features across these platforms are more uniform. Cleaning up the iOS apps interface wouldn’t be a bad idea either. In the meantime, no matter what happens, they already lost me as a user on the iOS platform.