“I seek you”—remember this tagline? A few years ago the popular instant messaging service ICQ, created by four young Israeli students back in 1996, was all the buzz. Read on to find out what we make of ICQ Messenger, the Android application version of the classic messaging service.
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Features & Use
ICQ rocked the instant messaging world when it first came out and went on to be one of the most popular messaging services of all time. It has even been said that the Israeli lads paved the way for the development of instant messaging. You could say that that ICQ was the Facebook of another generation, and everyone and their mother had an account.
We tested the ICQ app a few years ago and weren't blown away by its performance at the time—it seemed like the developers hopped onto the mobile bandwagon too late. However, a new Android version was recently launched and we were more than a little curious to see what the ICQ team had in store for us.
In a nutshell: ICQ for Android is an instant messenger that comes with features such as push notifications and an option to add and chat with contacts. It's up to you whether you want to run the service via ICQ itself, GTalk, a Facebook plugin or by integrating a phone number. All of these options are beautifully integrated into the UI and work flow.
With the previous version of ICQ, we deplored that fact that it wasn't possible to use one's own number, and we believe this to be one of the reasons why WhatsApp was able to gain a leg up on ICQ. That said, the ICQ devs seem to have caught on and released a very nicely tailored new version. The app has a big advantage over other instant messengers in the sense that it's not an energy vampire, seeing as it will run in background mode. How much battery power it will ultimately consume is contingent on how many messages a user receives, as well as how a user makes use of the app.
A few drawbacks: it isn't possible to prevent the app from auto-starting, at least I couldn't find a way of changing this setting on any of the four test devices. I personally found this to be a pity, seeing as I'd rather decide myself when I want to chat rather than remain chronically accessible to my contacts.
As for connecting to Facebook, I encountered a bit of a head scratcher: if ever you uninstall the app and deactivate the Facebook plugin, it can occur that receiving messages via Facebook (i.e. the integrated chat function) is no longer possible. It's very possible that the fault for this glitch lies with Facebook, but it's good to bear in mind that reinstalling and then deinstalling ICQ Messenger can help in this situation.
While we're on the Facebook topic, please note that Facebook chat histories can't be loaded on ICQ ex post. This means gaps may appear when you're revising chat streams.
The app could also benefit from little alterations such as a sleep mode, as well as a smarter placement of the log-off button.
ICQ Messenger is an awesome application and definitely a member of the instant messaging elite.
Its biggest issue may be its delayed adaption for the current mobile market.
However, it's a great option for users looking to combine their Facebook and GTalk contacts, and, of course, if you've still got some ICQ contacts it's a triple score.
Screen & Controls
ICQ Messenger's graphics are average, but the UI will feel pleasantly familiar to ICQ fans thanks to the typical ICQ colours.
As far as using the app goes, a few features that make controls more comfortable are missing, including an option to swipe between individual tabs, as well as a tab system for chats. Also, the app isn't adapted to the Android 4.0 ICS design, which means that when it runs on devices such as the One S or One X a rather unattractive black bar shows up at the bottom of the display.
Speed & Stability
ICQ Messenger performed exceptionally well on all four test devices (HTC Desire, HTC Sensation. HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Gio). No crashing, lagging or force closing to speak of and smooth sailing all the way.
ICQ Messenger is available for free from the AndroidPit App Center and Google Play.