Whether it’s Facebook, AIM, or Yahoo, everyone is signed up to a service that provides them with instant messaging. Besides a phone call, it’s one of the quickest ways to have a conversation with our fellow man, and because it’s completely free, it’s also one of the most popular.
To make the most out of instant messaging on your iOS device, you’ll need a decent application. We’ve put together a list of the best apps currently available; check them out after the break!
eBuddy Pro Messenger – ($4.99) iPhone – Social Networking
eBuddy Pro claims to be “the best chat experience” for a whole range of IM networks – all of which are conveniently packed into one buddy list. It supports AIM, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo, Facebook, Google Talk, MySpace, Hyves, and ICQ. You can personalize your experience with plenty of colorful, high quality themes; get push notifications while eBuddy is running in the background; and send pictures to your buddies during chat. There’s a landscape mode if you prefer to use the horizontal keyboard, and support for group chat.
Palringo Instant Messenger Premium – ($4.99) iPhone – Social Networking
The award-winning Palringo supports the same long list of IM networks as eBuddy, except it supports Jabber and Gadu-Gadu instead of Hyves. As well as text and images, Palringo also allows you to send voice messages to your buddies, and boasts some great location-based features that show you where your friends are. View buddy locations on a map, or use the ‘nearby’ feature to find friends in your vicinity. This feature can be personalized so that you only share your location with people you choose, or you can turn it off completely if you wish. Other features include conversation logging, themes, and password protection.
BeejiveIM – ($9.99) Universal – Social Networking
Just like the other apps, BeejiveIM also supports all the major IM networks, and works in the background even after you’ve closed the app; sending you push notifications to alert you of new messages. You can choose to keep a log of your conversations – which you can be sent via email – and BeejiveIM automatically parses hyperlinks for web pages, YouTube videos, email addresses, and phone numbers. There’s also support for SMS chat with your buddies through AIM or Yahoo SMS out. The downside to BeejiveIM is its price; it’s a really great IM client, but at $9.99, it’s double the price of eBuddy and Palringo. It’s not a universal app either, so if you want the iPad version, that’s another $9.99!
Meebo – (Free) iPhone – Social Networking
Meebo has been the leading platform for multi-protocol IM on the web since 2005, and now there’s a client optimized for the iPhone which aims to provide speed, simplicity and performance. With support for over 100 IM networks, and a great list of features, Meebo should satisfy the vast majority of users; and best of all it’s completely free. You can keep a searchable log of your chat history which you can sync with Meebo.com for access on the web, your desktop, and your iPhone; and the advanced chat session management allows you to switch seamlessly back and forth between platforms. There’s also support for real-time updates from your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Verbs – ($2.99) iPhone – Social Networking
Unlike the other applications in our list so far, Verbs is dedicated to Google Talk, AIM, and MobileMe. Because it’s designed for just three networks, it’s simple and easy to use, with a nice, sophisticated user interface. Verbs integrates with Droplr and CloudApp to send photos and download files, and you can view downloaded text, PDF, Office and iWork documents right within the app. If you only use one of the three networks Verbs supports, this app is definitely worth your money.
AIM – ($2.99) iPhone – Social Networking
AIM supports Facebook, Google Talk, MobileMe, and AIM (obviously); and also has a feature called ‘Lifestream’ which allows you to view and post updates to your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace feeds. Like Verbs, AIM is great for someone who uses only one or two IM networks and wants a simple app without a shed-load of fancy features. The AIM app allows you to add your location to your AIM status and simultaneously check into Foursquare; send free SMS messages; and manage your buddy and group lists.
IM+ Pro – ($9.99) Universal – Social Networking
Finally a universal instant messaging application! IM+ Pro works beautifully with all of your iOS devices, and supports pretty much every IM network out there. It’s the only third-party application with support for Skype chat, and the first and only application to support speech recognition (activated through a $0.99p/m in-app purchase) – which allows you to dictate your messages as opposed to typing them in. Other features include email notifications, a built-in web browser, animated emoticons, customizable sounds, and access to your Twitter feed. IM+ might be another application with a $9.99 price tag, but this one earns it with it’s universal device support and stacks of features.