How to Instant Message on an iPhone

How to Instant Message on an iPhone

You won't find iChat or any instant messaging on the iPhone. For whatever reason, Apple decided against instant messaging. There is a workaround, though - Meebo.


Meebo is a Web service that lets you use IM via Meebo supports Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo, and AIM. For Mac users, AIM is compatible with iChat. Meebo is free to use, and you have to sign up for an account.


Why would you want to use IM through a Web site? You could use Meebo if you're at a public Internet kiosk that has no chat client installed. Or you can use Meebo on an iPhone via the Safari browser.


Until recently, Meebo lacked an important feature: The ability to send a message by tapping the iPhone's return button. But they've fix that. We gave Meebo a try on our iPhone. Here are the pictures of our experience.


After we signed up for an account and logged in, here's how Meebo looks on our iPhone. Thank goodness for zoom.


To chat, you find the name on your buddy list, and tap on it. A chat windows comes up. You then tap in the message area to type. And this is where it gets tricky. The keyboard takes up most of the screen, moving most of your chat window offscreen.


When you're done typing, hit Go to send the message.


You can't see the dialog when the keyboard is onscreen. When you're done typing the keyboard disappears and then you can zoom out or pan to see the chat window. The annoying thing is that you have to repeat this prcoess over and over: Type, tap go, unzoom/pan. Type, tap Go, unzoom/pan. It can get annoying. (You can't not zoom. Whenever you tap on the text field to type, iPhone zooms in.)


When you're in landscape mode, the keyboard takes up almost the whole screen. There's room only for three lines of the message you're typing.


Meebo for iPhone is in what the company calls "pre-Alpha." Meebo knows its not perfect for the iPhone, but they're working on improvements. Considering that the iPhone isn't even a week old, Meebo has adjusted to the iPhone quickly. It's not the optimal solution, but Meebo works in a pinch. And it's free.




+ Add a Comment


I know this article is a bit old, but:

Couldn't you theoretically use AIM's [or Yahoo's] web browser based IM services on the iPhone? They're both compatible with Safari. I've not had my hands on a actual iPhone unit to see how well these types of web pages work. Granted, these pages probably suck on an iPhone, but if it gets the job done...


Brian J Poole

Your article, HOW TO INSTANT MESSAGE ON AN iPHONE, is, well, not correct. There IS SMS on the iPhone. Try hitting the SMS button from the home screen. It's not iChat but looks almost identical. Also, regarding your PodCast 14 reviewing the iPhone, one of you mentioned that the keyboard seemed to be missing some keys at times. Duh! I don't even have an iPhone yet but I know that the keyboard is context sensitive depending on which screen or task you are using it for. And you would know it too if you had watched all the videos on Apple's web site showing off the features of the iPhone. You would also have known about the SMS feature. Which I still can't figure out how you missed. According to the aforementioned video the SMS button is the upper left most button on the home screen. You folks are supposed to be the "professionals" and this is your field of expertise. It almost makes me want to cancel my subscription and look for a different Mac magazine. ALMOST. While I'm on a ranting rampage, a few months back you had an article about the evolution of the ICON. You mentioned that Adobe once had an icon for PhotoShop that was "the eye of some elegant lady." It is the eye of the Mona Lisa. Adobe even used images of the Mona Lisa in a lot of their packaging and advertising way back when. My opinion here, but if you are going to cover things from the past, it would benefit you to have at least one person on your team old enough to know first hand what it was like to use Macs while they evolved into what we have today. I am not a professional writer but would love the chance to write reviews and how too's. Can I submit things as a freelance writer? Well, other than that, keep up the good work.


Wayne - WDC

Brian -

Although I am just now reading this article and your comment - it is too bad I think that you need to be critical in your response...

I actually do own an iPhone, and the "SMS" feature is for text messaging only - not for IM or Chat. It is displayed in an "iChat" look, but it is NOT for IM or Chatting - it is Text Messaging at its' best, and is billed accordingly as well - each message in or out is a separate billing.

Let’s say I have a 200 a month limit on my plan for text messages -- using the SMS feature on the phone, while in what looks like I am "chatting" in an IM - each message in or out is one less on my plan.

I am not sure what your profession is and it's not important to me, but being someone myself in the IT field (IBM or "PC" as most like to refer to the IBM compats’), and being a total MAC and APPLE geek now (and all I use at home) since 1990 and as well being a total computer geek in general -- it may serve you to have your FACTS straight before commenting on such things, as, well, the "SMS" feature on the iPhone especially since in the article you as well stated that you don’t (or at that time didn't) even own one...

Be well.




SMS is not the type of instant messaging this article is referring to. You are talking about text messaging which is SMS. You cannot import your AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, et. al. buddy lists into your phone and directly click and send off messages. Are there interfaces for many IM systems that could transfer over SMS messages onto the IM networks? Yes. But this is very complicated, especially if you want people to be able to reply via their IM application. Had you paid close attention or read a single iPhone document you would know that SMS is simply text messaging which Apple has made threaded to look like iChat.

Please keep writing to yourself. You are guilty of the same sin you allege MacLife is committing.


John Croshan

Brian, the iPhone isn't just a phone, it's a Wi-Fi Internet device. Using iChat on the Internet wouldn't cost me a thing. But SMS comes with a price. You get 200 text messages on any of the standard plans - if I can use iChat so I can avoid using all my allocated SMS messages, I would.

And from what I understand, SMS can't initiate a session with a Mac using iChat. The iChatter has to start the conversation so the texter can send responses.

And finally, SMS is limited to 160 characters per message. iChat isn't.



i use meebo allday at work, since it uses a webpage (tab in firefox) i dont have to install an app that IT will frown upon. i have been using meebo for over 1 year now. its great. its good to know that it works on the iphone. ive tried it on my pocket pc using opera, and i get errors.



Would eBuddy work on the iPhone?



Sorry, your browser is not supported yet.

That is what it says if you are using Safari so I'm guessing that AIM wouldn't work on the iPhone either.


Leslie Ayers

...developers are ticked that they can't develop REAL apps for the iPhone. Because if they could, I bet the peeps at Adium would be all over a chat app for the iPhone. Oh well, I guess Meebo is better than nothing (and better than having to keep track of your text messages to make sure you don't go over your 200-message allotment). ~Leslie

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