As I said when I initially started the reviews, I really wanted to get more ... BlackBerry News forum
Multi-IM Client Roundup: Conclusion
As I said when I initially started the reviews, I really wanted to get more clients included to create a larger test base. Unfortunately though, there just aren't a lot of multi-IM service apps out there that play well with BlackBerry's OS 5.0. That doesn't mean however that the apps I tested were somehow lacking or that they didn't fulfill their intended purpose. All three, BeeJive, IM+, and Nimbuzz performed admirably.
I set out with 3 specific criteria in mind when judging these applications: connect to all of the standard services, not be a battery/resource hog, and a clean and easy to use interface. What can I say, I want a lot from an application that I spend a lot of time using. Now while these were the must haves for any of the apps, they weren't the only features I looked at. Each of these applications seemed to bring something different to the table and also fit a different style of consumer. Each one however was fully compatible with OS 5.0 and lower.
So here's a quick recap of each application:
BeeJive: This was one of my favorites from the three as it included some great customizations features, without the "options bloat" that tends to plague developers looking to please a large variety of consumers. It connects to all of the standard services such as AIM, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo!, Facebook Chat, MySpace, GoogleTalk, ICQ, & Jabber. Being one my major review criteria, as I have friends that use nearly every one of those services and I wanted to be able to stay in touch with all of them without the need for 3-4 apps. The chat screen customizations is a nice touch for anyone who, unlike me, doesn't prefer a basic looking interface and want to touch it up a bit. I would like to have seen the option to add custom backgrounds instead of the defaults, but it doesn't detract from the feature. The quick chat selection and reconnect features also sold me on this app as I like any feature that can potentially save me time and clicks.
In the end, I found BeeJive to be an easy to use IM client that provides everything you'd expect from an IM client as far as connectivity, as well as some room for UI customization. Though I'm usually one who prefers free apps, I can say that for $14.99 for a license that includes lifetime updates and device transfer capability, it's not a bad deal at all.
IM+: This is another solid app overall for IM chat. Like BeeJive, it supports the standard services, but also includes both Skype Chat and Twitter. Definitely a plus when you have a feature no one else does. The interface is sharp and easy to use with 3 customization options for the main screen display (tree, grid, lines). Only 2 options for chat display, bubbles and lines, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it does keep things simple and easy to follow. I was not impressed with the Twitter display however as it seemed to either be squished or exploding on the screen. After changing a few options around, I was able to get it to a point where it was readable, but it is definitely not a replacement for a dedicated client as there are no advanced features such as URL shortener or picture sender.
The chat pane switching is painless (simply scroll left or right) and it does include the ability to send/receive files, pictures, and even voice messages to/from buddies. It also includes a service that translates messages into 9 different languages as well as a dictation feature (separately priced, but integrated into the app). IM+ sports several other features that does make it an app packed with options and addons, but these come at a premium price. A license similar to BeeJive is $39.95, but cannot be transferred to an iPhone or iPod. Personally I just don't have a need for a lot of the extra features included in this app to justify that price tag. Before you write this app off because of the price, look at the included services and extras and decide whether you'll get your money's worth out of it first.
Nimbuzz: I wish more developers out there would follow in Nimbuzz's footsteps and create a very basic, yet totally functional multi-IM service application that was priced as low as Nimbuzz, free. I have been a big fan of this app for quite sometime as it supported all of the same services as its paid counterparts, provided a very easy to use interface, and was great on battery life and memory usage. There are no real customizations to be had with this app and that's one of its strong points. No bloat, but full functionality. This application is geared towards individuals who are more focused on the need to communicate with their friends/family then the overall look of the interface.
I had nearly given up on the developers however as it stopped working sometime around December '09 when revision .411 started popping up in the OS 5.0 leaks. I actually had to downgrade the OS on my device to be able to test it, but just in the nick of time, a new version was released that is fully compatible with the current incarnations of 5.0. There isn't really a lot to detail for this app, except that it's simple, easy to use, functional, and free. Though the developers are promising some much more advanced features in the near future such as Skype calling capability. So who knows, it may break out of its 'basic' box after all, but I sincerely hope that it doesn't become overloaded with extra features and useless customizations as it would detract from one of the main design feature of Nimbuzz.
Each one of these fulfills a separate desire for the consumer. Whether it's advanced display customization, integrated features, or basic functions, any of the three will be suitable for someone. Out of the three however, I must say that BeeJive gave a great balance of features and simplicity without an exorbitant price tag. I really enjoy the idea of paying once for an app and receiving support for it down the road, rather then paying recurring subscription or major revision fees. Plus the UI customizations allow for some flexibility for users who prefer more then a white background. If you're not opposed to paying a fee and want a great IM client, I'd recommend BeeJive. If you find you need extra features such as translation, voice messaging, and light Twitter use in one app, consider IM+. If you must stay in the realm of free applications, then Nimbuzz is about your only pick, but I cannot foresee anyone being disappointed in the app's performance.
Great roundup! Thanks for the insight on these apps, very helpful!
Really nice reviews - thorough and well covered on each app. Thanks for doing the "homework" and sharing the info!
For every complex problem there is a solution, that is simple, neat, .....and wrong! (H. L. Mencken) jblackfish(at)pinstack(dot)com
Well done, Matt. Appreciate it! And congrats on the "purple"! Well deserved.....
Appreciate the positive feedback everyone. Each one of these can cater to a different user and different needs, so it'll be up to the individual to decide how much they really need and whether it's worth the price to them.