Accessible Instant Messaging iPhone App Hits the iTunes Store

A highly-anticipated update to Shape Services’ popular IM+ iPhone app featuring comprehensive VoiceOver accessibility hit the iTunes Store Thursday.

According to its iTunes Store entry, the new version 4.30 of this app, renamed IM+ Pro, features “New themes and wallpapers, hi-res graphics for iPhone 4, full VoiceOver support, setting own display picture from iPhone 4 front camera, improved contact search and bug fixes.”

Blind high school senior Michael Hansen said he was delighted to learn of the accessible instant messaging option for his new iPhone.

“I use my iPhone mainly for various applications, messaging, and phone calls,” Hansen said. “I just found out about it this morning and I immediately purchased the app and tweeted to @implus to thank them for their work.”

He said IM+ Pro works better for him than other apps he has tried.

“I started out last week using Palringo, and I found that to be unsatisfactory because I could not log into Facebook and I could not read messages that were sent to me from AOL Instant Messenger,” Hansen said. “There went $4. I think that Apple should refund VoiceOver users if an app they purchased is not accessible. ”

He said IM+ works just fine with AIM, but he is having an accessibility problem connecting with Facebook.

“I have tried to connect to AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook; AIM worked fine, but Facebook did not,” Hansen said. “When I tried to add Facebook as a service, I got a message saying that I would have to tap the ‘Connect’ button to validate my information. However, I could not, for the life of me, find the ‘Connect’ button.”

He said he is confident the Facebook issue will be fixed quickly.

“I think that Shape Services has done the VoiceOver community a big service, and the Facebook connect button issue is a small bump in the road which I would imagine they could fix quickly,” Hansen said. “I just wish more app developers cared about accessibility—that’s the biggest problem with using an iPhone right now.”

Shape Services’ business development team official Natalia Kasyanova said the company has another nice surprise in store for blind users in the coming weeks.

“I would like to confirm that we are planning to release an IM+ Lite version with VoiceOver support by the end of August. It is a free adware version of IM+ which has the same functionality as IM+ Pro,” Kasyanova said. “We hope that it will make instant messaging even more available for blind users of iPhones and iPads.”

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5 Comments

im plus

so far i have been using im plus and it is one heck of a cool app. wish more apps were accessible like this one is.

awesome app, but could have better braille support

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I downloaded and started running this program today, and I'm quite impressed with it. The innerface is easy to figure out, and the program is very voiceover user friendly. However, when typing text in to an input field with braille, the braille does not show up in real time. if you flick left once to the last message sent and thenn right again, you can see what is typed, but if you edit anything, that updated edit will not show up in braille. You will get speech feedback, but this would be an awesome improvement if they could update what is being written as you write it.

IMPlus free

All,
The free virsion of the IM client is also accessible. It never used to be, but I personally like pro, as their are no adds, and skype support, if needed.

yeah IM+ is a very

yeah IM+ is a very accessible instant messenger client. I use it for face book and msn/ window live