Instant Messaging (IM) has been around for a long time. So it is then no surprise that there are a whole bunch of IM apps on the App Store today. Theses apps integrate multi chat clients like MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk, ICQ, Facebook, and Jabber. Most IM apps in the market sport functions such as the ability to send images, videos, voice and location.
Here we will compare 2 popular IM apps out there, IM+ and BeeJive. We have selected these 2 because (1) They have been around so a long time and are synonymous with IM apps (2) They have maintained the highest pricing for IM apps of $9.99. So if you are ready to splurge $9.99 for an IM Client, keep reading!
We already know what IM clients do: chat, send pics, voice, videos, and locations. However, we want to focus on what is below the hood, how easy it is to get you to perform these tasks, and how fast it takes. Finally, we will also look at the feel good factor of the UI and other knacks that define great iOS products. The test environment was on the iPhone 4 via a wi-fi connection.
Start the Engine!
This is a shootout and the first thing we want to look at is how these IM programs startup and load the contacts. In this test, Beejive took 5 seconds to complete the task while 15 seconds to get me started.
Verdict: Hands down Beejive takes the fast startup category.
Can?t we all just Chat Along?
Both chats worked as they should so we?ll look at how the Group Chat functions for both IMs performed.
IM+ had a 4 step process to get a group chat started; tap on icon, select the chat account to initiate chat (msn, gtalk etc. etc.), check the contacts you want to include, and then ?done? to get started.
Beejive also has a 4 step approach however, slightly different. Firstly, their group chat icon is on their chat page and not on the contacts list. Then, they require you to type in the names of the contacts you want (instead of IM+?s pull down menu to tap and check the contacts). This is great for you socialites with hundreds of contacts, but a bit cumbersome if you are lazy to type.
Verdict: I got to go with IM+ for the quick taps to get me on started on my group chats
Look at me Ma!
So this is the scenario ? you are chatting and there is a great picture/video you wish to share. Which one of these 9.99 apps gets you there better? Both IMs managed to send Pics and Video with the same speed, so we are just going to look at how easy it is to get a pic (stored or taken from camera) off to one of our friends.
IM+ has the share function hidden so you need to retract the keyboard (tap the wallpaper) to get to your share options.
Beejive gets you sending your pics/videos off with a simple tap the top of the chat screen to get the pull down Share menu.
Verdict: Hands down Beejive wins the ?Look at me Ma!? category. The 1 quick tap to get you to the Share Menu was just simpler. For IM+ you had to retract the keyboard, and then tap the Share Menu icon.
The X Factor.
The X-factor consists of the little things like the User Interface, User Experience and the other knacks that make great programs.
IM+ has a Skype client and that?s a plus above the other IM messengers out there. However, it logs out every 2 hours due to a technical limitation. Yes, you heard it right ? you get Skype but you get a nagging notification every 2 hours that you are logged out of Skype.
Skype has a built-in browser so that you can connect to links in your chats without having to leave the program – that?s a plus.
Beejive has a nice crisp User Interface that I found easier to use. Switching between chats was better as a tap on the contact name (on the active chat screen) would get a pull down menu with all the active chats for you to switch to.
It does allow you to view links that are sent via a browser, but that?s all it does – view it. Upon closing the browser, there does not be a way to re-open the browser again. It doesn?t compare to the IM+ browser that has a dedicated browser icon with the ability to bookmark links to that browser or on Safari
It?s a really really close one. But I will have to go with BeeJive. Perhaps first impressions count, during my tests where I has to switch between chat clients, Beejive?s speed in booting up and loading contacts just made me feel that it was slicker and faster.
However, if I needed Skype and was willing to re-log in every 2 hours or got a lot of links on my chats, IM+ is the app for me .
It seems like the Internet Messaging market has reach its peak with all the functions it can offer. What IM client are you using? What?s your wish list of functions for IM app? As always, feel free to share your opinion by leaving comment below.