iPhone AIM clients

Ok, "BeejiveIM" is worthless, because it seems incapable of keeping itself logged in and/or reconnecting. (Also annoying is that it doesn't identify itself to the AIM server as a "mobile" connection, so every time it reconnects I get the unblockable "you are logged in two places" message.)

So that was a waste of ten bucks. Please recommend other iPhone AIM clients that actually work. Plus points if they do Jabber too, but actually staying connected is more important.

It turns out that this is, so far, the only thing I miss about the Palm Pre software: their integration of AIM and SMS into a single app actually worked well.

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33 Responses:

  1. solarbird says:

    Did you find the preferences settings for length of idle time before audo-disconnect? It defaults to something stupid like 15 minutes. You can set it up to a week. (Settings/BeejiveIM/Network and Push/Session Timeout.)

    If you did and it still doesn't work, then if you find something that works better (generally) then please, please, please post about it, because I tried everything I could find six months ago and they all blew even harder (particularly with disconnects and crashes) than Beejive. Good luck.

    • jwz says:

      Ah, I hadn't noticed that preference. Thanks. Maybe that'll fix it...

      • jmissig says:

        Sorry, I should've mentioned that the biggest downside of BeejiveIM is that it has a billion hidden preferences, so it turns into a game of trying to select the right combination to make it suck less.

      • edrabbit says:

        the timeout was the #1 problem for me as well until someone clued me into that preference. If there's a way to disable the "you are logged in" message for multiple logins, please let me know too! hate it when I get notified on three devices that they're all logged in. :P

        • jwz says:

          This wouldn't happen if Beejive would properly set the bit on it's connection to AOL that says "I am a mobile client".

  2. tiff_seattle says:

    if apps cannot run in the background except for apple's own apps, how do you expect them to stay logged in?

  3. lx says:

    Surprising. I use it a ton, keeps me logged in fine. Maybe I've been lucky with coverage.

    I do occasionally get the "two places" message, it's far less annoying than what I previously dealt with in the AIM.app.

  4. cryptomail says:

    sorry if this is lazy, but what is the return policy on apps you buy and then don't like?
    Can you get your money back?

  5. msjen says:

    Despite the fact that making a computer-related suggestion in your LJ is probably hazardous to my health:

    Did anyone suggest fring yet? It seems to work fine, but admittedly I almost never use chat on my phone...

  6. lexicat says:

    Before the push update, I started using the original mobile IM->Text Messages service, and I haven't felt inclined to change. You'll have to register your phone number with AIM and of course have unlimited text messages. There's some syntax for making outgoing texts, but I just go find the last conversation with someone and reply to it. The conversion to mobile is automatic with AIM, so when you log off of a computer the IM's instantly start going to your phone. And you are correctly identified as being mobile of course.

    https://settings.aim.com/en_US/mobile

  7. perlguy9 says:

    I agree with the suggestion to modify the setting to stay logged in. I typically use Gtalk more than AIM, but I haven't had any problems with AIM other than the aforementioned "you're logged in from 2 places" messages.

    Perhaps a suggestion to the Beejive folks would fix it.

    Also, with regards to refunds, I contacted Apple recently to ask for a refund on the "Cahoots" app, which has been totally unusable. It was only $1.99, but more than anything I was hoping to get the attention of the developers who were initially responsive in promising updates but recently went silent and no progress appears to be made.

    Long story short, Apple issued me a $1.99 refund for the app.

    Good luck with the iPhone, Jamie. I've had my 3G a year and while it's certainly not perfect, I really dig mine. I'm addicted to Orbital and GeoDefense Swarm.

  8. acdha says:

    I used to use IM+ Lite, which works reasonably well and has push. I say used to, because these days I just use the mobile Google Talk since my friends have mostly moved over to Jabber-based services and the Google web apps tend to work well.

  9. gthing says:

    Awwww ... you don't miss multi-tasking from the Pre? That's really what the iPhone requires to do IM in any reasonably decent fashion.

    The background-server notification thing is a joke that dances around the problem without fixing it.

    • jwz says:

      Actually I haven't missed it at all, because -- funny thing -- due to the screen size, I can only run one app at a time anyway.

      With apps that don't need to maintain a network connection, there's no practical difference between backgrounding an app, and relaunching an app that properly restores its last state.

      The "push notification" thing is a weird way to do it, but you could also say that Palm's app-switching is a joke that dances around the problem that quitting and re-launching an app takes ten seconds. If they launched faster, you wouldn't need to leave them running.

      • wtfwtf_ok says:

        With the sidekick I could start a web page loading, flip over to email and check that, send some IMs, and then get a notification when the browser was all done loading and rendering.

        So that's one thing I miss with the iphone. The faster network (and page rendering) take care of most of the problem, but sometimes I have to sit there and wait for a large page to load.

        • thomtoffner says:

          I missed that when I went from Sidekick to iPhone too, but now seeing ultimate downside to running all your services through a network-side proxy (which is how Danger makes your IM connection and email and Web browsing all work fast on the slow-ass Sidekick connections) I think its a trade-off I'm more than willing not to make.

          That said, I can switching between browser, email and IM on my Android phone now just as well, without any network side proxying. Sidekick > iPhone was kind of an "upgrade" in a lot of ways, downgrade in others, but iPhone > Android completed the cycle for me. I now feel like it was a complete upgrade. I just had to live with the bits of iPhone that annoyed me for two years until Android came along.

          Granted, there are things about Android that annoy me too, but not to the same level as iPhone/Sidekick.

  10. jcurious says:

    The AOL AIM app allows you to have it SMS you messages when you disconnect from the app. However, I've been unable to disable this feature. So any time I disconnect from AIM, even on my desktop, it still sends me an SMS message when someone IMs me after I've disconnected.

  11. chrisb74 says:

    Have you tried Ebuddy? I've only briefly used it so I can't offer a review, but the price is right - $0.

  12. neacal says:

    Weird... I use Beejive IM and never had issues staying connected... did you adjust the session timeout in the Settings? I think it's a bit short by default.

    Otherwise, it's a pretty good client. Calling it a waste goes a bit far I think. I paid $16, and still don't regret it.

    • neacal says:

      Hah. I just ran into the one problem I have with my iPhone - not reading other people's replies (due to screen size & lack of proper tabbed browsing) before saying something at the risk of being redundant. Sorry! ;)

      • 205guy says:

        You can't blame that on the iPhone, the width of jwz.lj fits perfectly on the screen in vertical mode. BTW, the iPhone's double-tap-to-fit is what makes the iPhone's browser so usable.

        • neacal says:

          Hehe. Well, I _can_ blame it on the iPhone, due to the fact that:

          1) With a regular web browser, I generally do read the comments (typically in a separate tab).
          2) With my iPhone, I often skip the comments, and instead directly write my reply.

          So apparently _something_ about the iPhone makes me change my browsing behavior. Here's what I think it is:

          The lack of real tabbed browsing (*) means that I have to give up my current task (e.g. reading posts on LJ friends page), and switch to a new one (e.g. reading comments, or posting an answer). Every time I switch context, I am forced to wait for a reload, and re-layout. This takes time, especially on 3G or EDGE.

          So, because this is frustrating and time-consuming, I'm much more likely to go straight to the "reply" section instead of first reading the comments and then composing a more informed reply.

          Yes, there's definitely a factor of "user laziness", but that doesn't mean the iPhone UI isn't the root cause, right?

          (*) iPhone only allows 8 tabs, doesn't allow tabs preloading "behind" the current tab, discards everything but the thumbnail of a tab if it runs low on memory. In effect, it means that tabs are often nothing more than pretty bookmarks for your recently viewed sites.

          • 205guy says:

            So you meant to say that load time and lack of tabbed browsing were to blame.

            Personally, I find it's faster, more accurate, and more entertaining to read the comments and see that someone already provided the answer than to load the comment page and type my own.

  13. thomtoffner says:

    For those not as concerned with Google's Skynet-hive-mind, I've found that connecting my Google Talk account to an AIM transport has worked fantastically to give me one-client access to aim and Jabber simultaneously, and it works in any Google Talk/Jabber compatible client.

    I'm sure there must be a good Jabber/Google Talk client for iPhone by now, right?

  14. thomtoffner says:

    Also, I've used meebo's Android native client and it works surprisingly well. I'd heard they were planning an iPhone version using the Push system, and it was supposed to be available when iphone 3.0 launched, so you might take a peek in the App Store to see if it's there.

    If you haven't used Meebo's normal service, you can register any number of accounts on every imaginable IM network (including even bizarre stuff like Facebook and Flixter) and have all those contacts appear in one buddylist. THe native phone versions forgo the browser-based interface in favor of something much better suited to phones.

    I don't find it as nice as Android's in-built Google Talk client (which I use to connect to Jabber transports of any other IM services) but I do like it quite a lot. On systems without nice native Google Talk clients, I'd definitely use it over any other options available.

  15. kensey says:

    I use Palringo most of the time when I use AIM on my iPod touch. Of the free clients out there, it seems to work the least annoyingly for me (assuming occasional ads are just a dead spot in your vision like they usually are in mine).