After hitting the 10,000 apps and 300,000,000 downloads mark (yes, there were 300 million downloads so far), you would think there would be at least one app in the app store that offers an instant messaging experience somewhat similar to the desktop one. Take Digsby, for example. Besides its lack of Skype support, it is a user friendly, clean and fun interface that offers all the functionality one needs in a messaging application on a PC. What about the iPhone? Does such an app exist?
There is definitely no shortage of messaging apps in the app store, I wouldn’t even say there was a shortage of free ones. There is however, a very severe shortage of IM apps that offer it all, until now. Let me explain.
The available free IM apps include Fring, IM+, Palringo, AIM, Facebook, and Nimbuzz. Out of all of those apps, there is only one that offers all the needed capabilities of a good IM app.
So what does one need in an IM app to make it good? Here is a little list:
- Multi Platform Support: I need it to support AIM, MSN, GTalk, Yahoo, Facebook, and Skype.
- Landscape Keyboard: So much easier to type on.
- VOIP: It needs to not only support Skype, MSN, or GTalk chat, but why not take advantage of their VOIP capabilities as well?
- Separate Buddy Lists: I want to see my contacts separated by network and not all on one very long list.
- Easy to navigate interface: It has to be user friendly to be an app I would consider using.
OK so that is a short list of characteristics I am looking for in an IM app.
There is only one app that I have found to offer pretty much everything in that list; Nimbuzz.
Nimbuzz is a great app I discovered recently, after using Fring, IM+, and Palringo for a few weeks, and Nimbuzz has em all beat. It is not perfect yet, as there seems to be some buginess with Facebook chat sometimes working and sometimes not. I also occasionally get an AIM error that too many people are signing on at the same time, but it eventually signs me in.
Another issue I have with Nimbuzz is the login takes a little too long for my liking, but given all it offers, that is something I can deal with. I am really liking the quality of the audio when using the VOIP functionality via Skype, GTalk, or MSN, it is leagues above Fring or Truphone. The email integration is a little unclear to me, it notifies me when I have a new email in my Gmail account, but I cannot access the new message. Not getting that.
To sum up, I am really looking forward to the next Nimbuzz release, hopefully they’ll fix the minor issues and make this one of the most feature packed, fun to use apps in the app store. For me, Nimbuzz gets a 4.5/5. I am liking it.