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DLS Review: BeejiveIM for Android rocks your instant messaging world

I always had one rather large complaint about Fring and other multi-network messengers: they're dog-ugly -- like, Ugliest Dog In The World ugly. Fortunately there's a beautiful alternative that, until now, has only been available for iPhone and BlackBerry: it's called BeejiveIM, and after you try it every other messenger app on Android will fade into clumsy and ugly insignificance.

From the outset, BeejiveIM is just another multi-network messenger. It has support for all of the usual suspects -- AIM, Yahoo, MSN, GTalk, Jabber, ICQ, MySpace IM, and even a very nice Facebook chat interface. What sets it apart from its clunky brethren, of which there are many, is the user interface.

The UI (and I apologize for this cliché) is an absolute dream. The ease at which you can carry out conversations across multiple networks is almost superior to desktop apps.

Let me walk you through the UI and explain what I mean.


On the left, you have your "accounts" panel, and on the right, your unified contact list. If you use friend groups on Facebook, or Categories in your Yahoo, MSN, or AIM buddy lists, they appear here, too. Clicking each bar makes it expand or contract, so you can easily manage a huge number of friends. With a push-and-hold you can easily see each contact's profile, or block them.

Your current status can be set across all messaging networks, or you can select each one individually. If you want to be invisible on Facebook but visible on MSN, go for it!

My only complaint is that tabs are on top, far away from your thumb. There's no reason for them to be up there!

The middle tab shows your current conversations. There are handy little indicators that show you how many messages are waiting to be read, and there's even a snippet of text! If you look closely, a small icon shows you which network that conversation is being held on, too. [Don't worry, Sophie wasn't diagnosed with anything life-threatening.]

Now we're onto the best bit: the conversation view. I'm having a conversation with Lee on GTalk. My bubbles move up the right, and his up the left. The pièce de résistance, however, is the draggable bar at the top: it shows me notifications from other conversations, and it can be pulled down for a quick view of all open chats. Switching between chats is a breeze.

Hopefully you noticed the GIANT THUMB in the conversation above. With BeejiveIM, you can send a photo (either direct from the camera, or from memory) or a sound clip. The file is uploaded to the Beejive servers, and a link is sent to your chat buddy -- it's quick and painless and does away with the usual omg-sort-out-your-port-forwarding rigmarole.

If you don't like lime green speech bubbles, you can change the color to something more sensible in the settings -- you can also change the wallpaper (and BeejiveIM comes bundled with a bunch of pretty images that are guaranteed to make your text almost impossible to read!).

You can also change the Sent and Received notifications (sounds from MSN, AIM, Yahoo, and iChat are available), the sort order of your buddy list (and whether they are broken into groups/categories or not), your auto-away message (handy if you're going to leave BeejiveIM online 24/7), and you can even enable "Text Auto Correct" -- but I couldn't work out what this actually did.

Finally, I want to show you a really simple (but really cool) feature: "Email Chat." From any conversation, you can email the entire dialogue to any email address. This is a great way to get important conversations off your phone and onto your PC, or indeed any other device.

Conclusion

I'm hard pressed to find anything wrong with BeejiveIM for Android. Admittedly, I don't regularly use my phone for instant messaging, so there may be issues that would only emerge with extended use -- but considering Beejive's experience with other mobile platforms, I doubt it.

Perhaps the only bad thing is the fact that it costs $9.99 -- but if you commute, or otherwise spend a lot of time on the move, I think the price is more than reasonable.

BeejiveIM for Android Tech Specs

  • Installed Size -- 8MB, and I'm pretty sure conversations are cached. This isn't a small app by any means
  • Speed/Responsiveness -- Excellent, very snappy
  • User Interface -- Very intuitive, highly polished, but tabs should be on the bottom!
  • Configurability & Extensibility -- You can't change the theme of the tabs, nor can you alter the font -- the ability to change conversation colors and individual statuses for each network is very nice however
  • License -- Commercial, closed-source. 30-day trial available by visiting www.beejive.com/android on your phone

Tags: aim, android, apps, beejive, beejiveim, gtalk, IM, instant messaging, instant messenger, InstantMessaging, InstantMessenger, mobile, msn, yim

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