I have to admit, I paid 15 bucks for Beejive Messenger for the iPhone and haven’t looked back since. That said, I realize that not everyone has the budget or inclination to spend that much money on a mobile messaging app, nor should you have to. […]

I have to admit, I paid 15 bucks for Beejive Messenger for the iPhone and haven’t looked back since. That said, I realize that not everyone has the budget or inclination to spend that much money on a mobile messaging app, nor should you have to. Free clients are also available, and the newest addition to the list is Nimbuzz! That’s not me getting really excited, there’s an exclamation mark in the product name. Not that I’m unfazed by Nimbuzz! either. The app supports all major messaging (text and voice) clients, and VoIP protocols as well, including Skype, so that’s promising.

At first, I mistakenly inferred from the app description that it supports only Wi-Fi connections. Not so. For voice chat and VoIP functions, you must have a Wi-Fi connection, probably to comply with carrier-imposed limitations, but for text chat, 3G and EDGE are fine. Like Palringo, Nimbuzz! requires you to sign up for a master account, but the process is relatively painless. You can do it from within the application, and the only information required is your desired username, password, and a valid email address. Nimbuzz! uses the account to store your saved services, so you can sign in to the PC and web versions with a single login and access all your IM networks.

The interface is clean and fresh, with different icons for your contacts depending on which service they are from. You can add services from the “Communities” tab at the bottom of the screen, and also switch from your contacts list, to chats in progress, to your message inbox/sent and your settings. The “Messages” tab shows you your Nimbuzz! emails, which can be sent to and from Nimbuzz! contacts, and which stand in for offline messaging, as far as I can tell.

Touching a contact name brings up a screen from which you can call, initiate a chat with, or email that person depending upon what is supported by the service to which they belong. This screen also displays their email, nickname and status.

Chats and VoIP worked fine in Nimbuzz!, on par with Palringo and Fring in terms of speed and quality. Nimbuzz! is not a newcomer to the space, so I expected no less from them. Unfortunately, a deal-breaker for me is the lack of persistent connectivity. You are signed out of your services the moment you exit the app. It doesn’t even have the short delay Palringo offers, let alone Beejive’s 8-hour login duration. It is nice to see the polish and usability of Palringo with the VoIP features of Fring, but if you depend on IM for business and are away from a computer for much of the day, it can’t replace Beejive.

For casual users and as a VoIP/voice chat supplement to an always-on client, Nimbuzz! is a great choice. Overall, the interfaces are clean, responsive, and well-designed and the app in general has a slick, professional feel. Kudos to Nimbuzz! for not rushing out of the gates and sparing us another bug-riddled IM client for the iPhone. Try it yourself here for free.

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  1. Can anybody explain how the persistent connection in BeeJive works in practice? Does their server log into my AIM account and it’s just pushing the messages to me whenever my phone is on? Can it keep track of a conversation even when I run Adium on my desktop machine from time to time? There’s a lot of confusing information about it emailing you conversations when you’re away and such and I can’t seem to figure out how it really works. $15 is a bit much for me to find out…

  2. WebWorkerDaily » Archive Four iPhone VoiP Services Worth Ringing Up « Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    [...] with many other platforms such as Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, MSN, Facebook, MySpace and more. In fact, The Apple Blog had more overall sucess with it than I did, so you’ll want to see their [...]

  3. BeeJive’s server keeps you logged in, and uses push email (if you have it) to send you an email when you get a new message, which has a link in it which when clicked will launch BeeJive into that chat.

    It sounds clunky but in practise works quite well while we wait for Apple to sort themselves out.

    And the developers say that the code for Apple’s own push notifications is ALREADY in the app ready to go.

  4. Hm. And I can just fire up BeeJive whenever I want and it’s as if I had been online the whole time?

    What happens if BeeJive and Adium/iChat are logged in at the same time?

  5. Exactly. Or for as long as you have set it to stay online, which is from 10 minutes to 24 hours.

    Adium (or rather AOL/AIM) will give you a system message saying you are signed on in two locations and to type “1” if you wish to sign off in the other (ie Beejive). But it does allow multiple logins so it does work.

    MSN/Live will unfortunately NOT allow multiple logins and will sign you off in Beejive when you run Adium and vice versa.

    It really is a cool application, very slick and easy to use. If you want to use IM to replace SMS and you really do use IM frequently, then it pays for itself quickly.

  6. Cool, thanks for the info!

  7. Weekly App Store Roundup: Nov. 29, 2008 | TheAppleBlog Saturday, November 29, 2008

    [...] glittering global village. On the other hand, fellow TAB writer Darrell Etherington can’t get enough of Beejive’s sweet features. Choice is a good thing, so it’s wonderful that [...]

  8. Nimbuzz Demonstrates Possibility of Mobile VoIP on iPhone | Global IP Solutions Monday, December 1, 2008

    [...] Etherington at the Apple Blog has written a review of a promising new application from Nimbuzz. The application allows iPhone and other mobile device [...]

  9. Nice article. I think it points to the promise of mobile VoIP, while illustrating the challenges that stand in the way of mass adoption. I linked to this post in a blog for Global IP Solutions (GIPS) http://gipscorp.com/blog/. Nimbuzz is a GIPS customer and I think they have a pretty compelling product for a market that could end up becoming very large.

  10. Bites from the Apple: Cyber Monday, Bah-da Bah-da-da-da | Appml Monday, December 1, 2008

    [...] Web Worker Daily rounds up four iPhone VoIP applications, including JAHJAH (which is actually a web app), Fring, TruPhone, and the new Nimbuzz (which is also reviewed at The Apple Blog). [...]

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