Battle of the iPhone IM clients

Battle of the iPhone IM clients

Ben Wilson

We previously reported on the TinyBuddy Web-based instant messaging client, which works great on the iPhone. A new iPhone-optimized offering has now been introduced: JiveTalk for iPhone. Both work well and are acceptable solutions for sending and receiving instant messages from the iPhone. Here's a quick feature comparison:

JiveTalk (alpha)

  • Supports multiple instant messaging protocols, including AIM/iChat, MSN, Yahoo!, GoogleTalk, ICQ and Jabber.
  • A nice-looking interface that closely resembles iChat and shows away/status messages for members of your buddy list.
  • Interface is sometimes slow to load in the iPhone's version of Safari. Can result in lags when switching back to buddy list or scrolling.
  • Doesn't display names for multiple buddy chats, only small bubble icons. This makes it difficult to know which conversation is which.


  • Only supports AOL instant messaging.
  • Simple interface -- not nearly as visually pleasing as JiveTalks, but loads much faster (delivers less lag) in the iPhone's version of Safari.
  • Names of buddies are displayed for multiple chats, making it easy to switch to the right conversation.
  • Uses AOL's API to authenticate, meaning extra steps for login, but theoretically enhanced security since your password never goes through a third-party server other than AOL's.
  • Uses the iPhone two finger scroll to scroll the buddy list and IM conversations.

All in all, both of these Web apps function well and fill a void left by Apple -- something few other iPhone applications have been able to accomplish. Let us know which one you prefer.