Flamingo: the IM client your Mac always craved for

I’ve always preferred native clients for web services. Be it calendar (iCal), email (Sparrow), Twitter (Tweetbot) or, in this case, Google Talk. For years I was using Adium, a great open source OS X client supporting all sorts of protocols. Simple, minimal, efficient. Adium, though, never seemed like a truly native OS X app.

Moreover Google never launched a native client for Hangouts (née Talk) on OS X. That was always a problem for me since Talk was my IM of preference. I never did a lot of chatting on Skype except with a few very close friends and iMessages is still quite broken (sorry, Apple—that’s the truth.) Although iMessages has been improved a lot since, say, a year ago I think it still isn’t in a place that’s suitable as a regular day to day IM platform. It’s ideal for texting, just not IM yet.

Hopefully Flamingo solved the IM conundrum on OS X for good. With a fully native OS X approach Christian Dalonzo and Indragie Karunaratne (the guys behind it) re-imagined the UI and UX with great attention to detail and produced a beautiful product. Flamingo stands amidst the IM clients maelstrom as the only solution a true Mac user would love to use day in day out.


Flamingo’s chat UI

In spite of its first version and limited (but extremely well-thought) feature list, Flamingo shows amazing potential. Its all-in-one design sporting buddies, conversations, and messages, all in a single unified window is fantastic. On top of that, Flamingo supports a unified contact management system with seamless transitions between accounts in the same window. There’s also automatic inline-media support from services like CloudApp, Droplr, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and your favorite GIFs. Just paste a supported URL and it’s instantly transformed. Other features include direct file transfer—or via CloudApp and Droplr, blazing fast search and also support for Facebook and XMPP accounts.

At $9.99 it might seem really expensive and unnecessary for many—considering it’s an IM client—but personally I think it’s a very decent price for the software quality one gets. It totally transforms your OS X IM experience (we all know how horrible Google Hangouts Chrome extension is.) Flamingo is available on the Mac App Store.

posted: November 1, 2013
under: Mac, Reviews, Software

5 Responses

  1. I also use Hangouts as my preferred IM service. The new official Hangouts Chrome extension gives a somewhat native experience, since it integrates Hangouts with the operating system: a button can now be found at the Menu Bar and opens new/current conversations on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, outside Chrome. The added benefit is that it directly connects to Hangouts, allowing for group chats. Apps like Flamingo, Messages or Adium connect with the mother-service, be it Hangouts or Facebook Chat, using XMPP, thus reducing the Hangouts experience to the previous GTalk experience. The only caveat is that Chrome needs to be open, but I never close it anyway. Why, then, should I switch to Flamingo? I know that your post is trying to address this question. I share your taste for native apps but I haven’t yet seen how such apps, especially in the case of Hangouts, can compete with the ‘original’ experience provided by Google

  2. Apostolos says:

    @George I wouldn’t dub it native since it’s just a Chrome extension which also sits in your menu bar. I tried it but I never managed to like it at all. At some point the experience was so horrible that I uninstalled it and switched back to Adium and/or the gmail web interface. (Also: I don’t use Chrome anymore. I prefer Safari’s simplicity.)

    Adium supports group chats afaik. Flamingo is simply new and I guess they’ll support it in the future. I can speculate group chats wasn’t really high in the priorities list when they shipped the first version days ago.

    To put simply though, whether one uses Chrome or Safari the OS X Hangouts/Talk experience is mediocre at best. I think Flamingo does a way better job as an IM client than the Chrome extension in so many different ways like UI, simplicity, productivity, beauty, contact mgmt (unless group chats is *that* important to you.)

  3. I see your point, although I disagree on your assessment of the Hangouts Chrome extension being mediocre. That’s beside the point though, as I would also prefer that Google released a native OS X app. Now I am tempted to give Flamingo a try since you have praised it so much:)

  4. Apostolos says:

    @George well, its only (kind of) con is its price—makes it hard to “give it just a try” to be honest. Can only hope you’ll like it! :)

  5. I also despise the Hangouts extension. However, without group chat support in any native client it’s something of a necessity.

    I’ve not looked into the technical reasons for why a native hangouts client can’t be created, but I assume Google hasn’t provided the necessary API publicly and it can’t be handled correctly over XMPP.