Imagine this: you’re a busy social media manager with friends scattered across a raft of different social networks and you’d like to be able to chat privately with all of them from one place without the headache of registering separate accounts on each network. Sound like an impossible daydream? Not so, according to the founders of the new cross-platform mobile messaging app Uni Messenger.
Founded in June, the startup is the brainchild of Columbia Computer Science grad David Huning and Joe Huaqiao Chiu, who’d been developing a cross-platform social media communications solution while based in China in 2011. The firm now employs almost a dozen part-timers and eight full-timers at its San Francisco office.
Reaching everyone from one app
The new app is due to be launched next month and has been developed for the Android OS (at least to begin with). It will seamlessly combine all the social networking contacts of its users into a single easy-to-access address book – yup, that means Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, VK, Mixi and Cyworld (support for Google+ is in the pipeline). OK, so in that respect, it’s not too dissimilar from other social address book apps like Addappt, Brewster and Cobook. But that’s only the beginning for Uni Messenger: the next step is to let the user message all their friends, irrespective of what social network they’re on, straight from the app.
The canny social media manager will almost surely be asking at this point, how? It uses the networks’ APIs to send messages to contacts in their private inboxes, whether that’s LinkedIn’s Email or Twitter’s Direct Message.
Ambitious but exciting
Veteran social media managers may find the prospect just a tad on the “highly ambitious” end of the spectrum, and that’s a fair assessment. Each network’s API and policies will determine how possible it’s going to be – you can send a message to friend on Facebook, but she’ll need to download the Uni Messenger app if she wants to read it.
But if it catches on and friends all have the app, it includes app features like group chat (called “Circles on Uni Messenger), location and photo sharing and several more currently under development (like multi-language support, email, SMS, voice and video calls).
This could go far. And it’ll be a first.