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The best iPhone IM client yet debuts

The best iPhone IM client yet debuts

So far we've covered a number of Web-based IM clients built for the iPhone. There's the lightweight Heysan, TinyBuddy (which uses the iUi guidelines to mimic the iPhone's sliding style interface and adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to login via AOL's own Web-based authentication), and JiveTalk, which mimics the Mac OS X iChat interface to some extent.

These Web apps have done the job so far, but they all have some flaws: TinyBuddy and JiveTalk are both somewhat sluggish given the iPhone's relatively poor JavaScript performance. Heysan uses simple HTML to render its interface and is, hence, faster, but also requires constant automatic or manual refreshes to view new messages. Its interface and functionality are spartan interface even by Web app standards.

Enter Mundu IM iPhone Edition from Geodesic (an Indian company that's already created some great Web apps including Mundu Radio and IM clients for other mobile platforms). We've tested the new client briefly, and found that it combines most of what's good in the extant IM offerings while leaving out the bad. Here's some of what we like about it:

  • Tabbed chats: When you're in on conversation, other conversations appears as scrollable tabs at the top of the screen. The best implementation of multi-user chatting we've seen yet.
  • Smooth, fast operation: This is the best behaving IM client for the iPhone we've tested. The interface is responsive, responses are quick to load, and tapping a contact name almost immediately brings up a new chat. We also found the client to be usable over AT&T's EDGE network, where some other competitors certainly aren't.
  • Polished interface: Chats appear in conversation bubbles, akin to iChat. Away and status messages are neatly displayed, unlike some other clients that do a poor job rendering the text. There is also clear indication in a small icon next to each buddy regarding away status. Further, Mundu organizes buddies into AIM bots, normal buddies, mobile devices, etc.
  • Multi-protocol support: Though its not unique in this regard, Mundu can hold chats on the big four IM services: MSN, Yahoo, AIM and Gtalk.

The current release is free, and you can give it a spin at