App Showdown: Instant Messengers



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I'll have to add a +1 to "IMO", the app... but also to my opinion. :)

This is, of course, just that... but Beejive and IM+ are the old schoolers of this category. The iO.G.'s if you will. Both look and feel sickly antiquated, and to me, IM+ — it would be that ghoul you wake up next to after a night of blackout drinking. You just want to exit the situation as quickly as possible. In other words, the interface is hideous.

Add those to the fact of a ridiculous price tag of $10, and the only way I'd consider buying one of them was if they came with a $10 bill and a promise that I could immediately remove them.

Meebo, I have also tried and is one that I would actually use (and have, before I discovered IMO). The only turnoff with Meebo, unless there is a way around it in the mobile version; you have to make a "master" Meebo account under which all of the others exist. Not a deal-breaker, but it's just one more SN/PW I've gotta remember.

IMO. Yes. So why IMO?

Interface is modern and good looking, it supports nearly every service/protocol under the sun, you can set options such as logging per each individual account, and you can even "link" accounts to sign on in tandem (say, three services you always sign into by default).

It supports the gamut from the obligatory AIM, Yahoo, MSN/Live ... to Facebook, Myspace, Skype, Jabber/XMPP, to even a handful I've never even heard about. Oh yeah, and it has a cool "walkie-talkie" feature where you hold the mic button, talk, and it sends your msg via inline/embedded sound clip. Believe it or not (not!) I prefer to avoid typing whenever possible.

Still, it is not perfection. I feel the options are a bit lacking. Yes, I'm one of those control freak "want to be able to customize every aspect of an app" guys.

One last recommendation that's kind of obscure is an AOL app, it's not AIM, but called touchTXT and is a super minimalist interface for those who primarily use AIM and SMS people. You sign in under you screen name, and you have 3 (two besides the sign-in/settings) tabs to switch between. One is CONTACTS, aka your address book; choose a contact and it shows a cleaned up view of the standard contact view — their name, picture, any AIM SN's they have, any SMS capable numbers, and a "Call" button if you decide to give them a ring. To initiate, just tap which one you want. Conveniently, you can see the status of each of their SN's here, eliminating the true need for your ordinary "buddy list". A fresh take on an old idea.

Then there's the MESSAGE tab, where you can hit the "new" icon and type a number or SN manually to begin a convo. As said... key here is simplicity and clean interface. I find myself using this frequently to carry on SMS+AIM chats in parallel. I know the normal client(s) can do this, but the full app is clunky and this one is also *ad free* I forgot to mention, and *cost free*. If you are like me AIM+SMS and want something slim, well designed (from AOL?! — I know... crazy), clean and uncluttered flow through the interface, just give it 10 mins. You may really like it. touchTXT

Finally, just as a flame retardant (unless I get flamed now, for picking on the mentally handicapped) — I have also tried Fring, eBuddy, and to be honest I couldn't name or remember them all... but they were all "decent" and "usable" from what I recall. I just had to respond to these first two listed as "best of" material. I understand rehashing old material at times as a serious blogging site... but this is one that begs to be updated for the times!



IMO definitely gets my vote. GREAT chat program!



I know you can't review every single chat app, but you should also check out IMO. Does all of the major services, no ads, and free.

I was a big Meebo user until they 1) added ads right above the 'enter message' section and I was constantly clicking on it, and 2) I dont want to use it to "check in" anywhere or "follow" or any of the other social aspects they were trying to add.



How does someone make a list about this type of app and NOT include eBuddy? Seriously, go back to journalism school.


J Keirn-Swanson

It's a sampling of some of the apps on offer that provide a similar service to see which delivers what we consider the most beneficial experience. Clearly space doesn't permit, nor readers' attention spans, for us to compare every single app that performs a similar service. There are dozens and dozens of instant messaging/chat apps for iOS devices, so stick around. We may revisit certain types of apps if something new and impressive comes down the line. If eBuddy still looks promising when that day arrives, we might just take a crack at it.



I am simply stating, from what I see on the wed eBuddy could possibly be the most popular client or second most popular client of this sort so it most definitely should have been included in this review before most any of these especially since it has all this functionality and then some and is free.



Don't even get me started on just how unreliable and crappy ALL of these so-called chat apps are on a so-called "smart phones". BTW..whoever coined that ridiculous name for multifunction cell phones ought to be brought up on charges for crimes against humanity. If you want to lose friends and be accused of ignoring people, or pull what little hair you may have left dealing with digital technology these days, then by all away! Or, to yourself in cyber space and hope that whatever you are actually trying to communicate with someone over "IM" isn't a matter of life and death.

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