Over the course of an hour or so, I'm likely to get dozens of notifications -- several messages from different Slack groups, a few Hangouts messages, maybe some messages or notifications on Facebook, Twitter mentions, an SMS or two and some emails.
That's a lot to keep up with, and it forces you to constantly juggle several applications just to hold a few conversations. It shouldn't be this difficult or complex. It's just messaging.
Fortunately, there's a solution. It's called All-in-One Messenger, and it's a Chrome app, so it'll work on any Windows, Mac, Linux or Chrome OS computer.
To get All-in-One, click here or visit the Chrome Web Store and search "all-in-one." All-in-One Messenger should be the top result under Apps.
After it's installed, to launch the app, open Chrome and select the Apps shortcut. (If you can't find the shortcut, try enabling the bookmarks bar by going to View > Always Show Bookmarks Bar. Apps should be the leftmost icon.) Locate the All-in-One icon and double-click it. Alternatively, if you're using a Mac, you can use Command + Space to launch Spotlight and search "all-in-one" to locate and launch the app.
Once you've opened the application, you will need to start adding all your chat accounts to the app. There are currently 27 supported chat clients by All-in-One:
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Hangouts
- Steam Chat
- Tencent QQ
- Yahoo Messenger
Not only can you have all your favorite chat clients in a single window, you can have multiple instances of them. This is particularly helpful when it comes to something like Hangouts, which requires you switch your Chrome user account to log in to multiple accounts, which will open one chat window per instance.
For Facebook Messenger, for example, it just wraps http://messenger.com inside the Chrome app. Likewise, it uses http://hangouts.google.com for Hangouts, the subdomain web client for each of your Slack groups, and so on. Most of these web clients are fully featured, so All-in-One doesn't need a ton of features baked in, keeping it lightweight. Each chat app you have enabled uses roughly the same amount of resources they would in a browser tab in Chrome.
The app is still relatively new, so you won't find a lot of settings. You can rename each instance of a messenger to avoid any confusion, and you can enable notifications or disable sounds.
All-in-One isn't the first of its kind. Chat aggregators have existed for roughly 20 years in some form or another. I used Trillian way back in the early 2000s to consolidate AIM, MSN and Yahoo Messenger.
All-in-One is competing against two similar clients called Franz and Rambox, both of which support a larger list of chat clients. Franz and Rambox add Gmail, Inbox and Outlook support, while Rambox includes Hushmail, mysms, Voxer, Outlook 365 and many others, as well as the ability to add other chat services manually. Rambox also has Don't Disturb and Lock features. Franz and Rambox are available as native applications, so you can't use them from a Chrome OS computer, such as a Chromebook.
Switch between chats with hotkeys
Something many will find helpful are the hotkeys built in to All-in-One. Pressing ⌘ + 3 in All-in-One on a Mac or Ctrl + 3 on a PC, Linux or Chrome will open the third chat tab -- the same works for numbers 1 through 9. To jump to the tab to the right, press ⌘ + Option + Tab or ⌘ + Option + Right arrow on a Mac or Alt + Ctrl + Tab on a PC, Linux or Chrome. Adding shift to those commands will switch to the tab to the left. These commands are especially helpful if you find yourself constantly switching between conversations in various chats.