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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Background Info

Recently I have been intent on finding the perfect free IM client on my iPhone. For I while I had been using AIM’s own application, which surprisingly most people despise. Yes, it logs you out shortly after closing the app. Yes, it lacks push notifications. Yes, it only supports the AOL protocol (although thats not a problem for me since all my IM communications run through AIM). But its clean, stable, and works pretty well for occasional use.

However, different people desire different features, and while I would like a landscape keyboard, I am sure others desire Skype support. Ergo my quest for success.

Preliminary Summary

Nimbuzz is an interesting contender thrown in fairly recently to contend with powerhouses like Palringo and Beejive. The company actually has a decent history with smartphones on the Symbian platform so I was eager to see if Nimbuzz for iPhone would live up to expectations. For the most part it did, despite some unforgivable flaws.

Rather definitive icon, don't you think?

Rather definitive icon, don't you think?

First Impressions

When I first opened Nimbuzz, I was prompted to sign up for the company’s proprietary service before I could input my own AIM, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, MySpace, Google, MSN, or ICQ account. Now don’t take me as a lazy person, but it’s these unnecessary steps that lead many people to immediately delete apps like this. Now I understand Nimbuzz might prefer streamlining the sign-ins to one account on their distant server, but the extra account brings up security issues such as encryption since all your user passwords must funnel through their systems.

However, this initial registration is far from arduous, or rather, the opposite of arduous, with only a few required fields before you’re all set and ready to roll. The application itself is very nicely presented in an orange and white color sceme, with a rather obnoxious NIMBUZZ! logo at the top of the screen, but otherwise very smooth and pleasing. The communities window helps with entering all of your accounts, which promptly load in the accompanying contacts tab. So far so good.

In Depth

The application itself supports one of the widest groups of “communities” of all social networking apps that I’ve tested. Check out the official iTunes page for the details, but unless you want SIP VOIP chat, you really won’t be disappointed.

So once all your accounts are loaded, a couple of gripes become apparent. First of all, the sorting options are limited to alphabetical and alphabetical with separated communities. There are no settings for sorting by status which is very helpful to limit scrolling on the device. Also, AIM groups are not supported. And by the way, is anyone upset about the lack of buddy icons on most of these multi service clients? I just feel that these icons make identifying buddies so much easier and Nimbuzz disappoints in this area.

Even so, the chat interface is very well done. The whole window will rotate horizontally so that new chats will open with a horizontal keyboard. Yes that’s right! A landscape keyboard makes a huge difference when you need to send quick messages, and the implementation here does not disappoint. Somehow I feel that this is Nimbuzz’s killer feature, although I’m not knocking the rest of the app.

Nimbuzz also has VOIP integration over Wifi. Now I’m not a big Skype user, but calls through Skype, the only supported protocol, are reportedly clearer and crisper than competing products like fring.

Now with all these positives, I must reveal one last problem. When you close the application, Nimbuzz completely severs it’s connection from the main server. Which means no push notifications over email or SMS. And no quickly picking up a conversation after a periodic email or webpage visit.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Nimbuzz is a very worthy adversary to the long list of competing chat applications. The landscape keyboard is a boon to typers and the app has a great interface to boot. The instant disconnection at exit is a major negative, but only for those who want an always on connection.

8/10

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First post!

Well hello and this is the beginning of a new everything-has-to-do-with iPhone blog. But primarily in-depth-best-of reviews will be coming for the duration of my stay. Dig my dashes?

Coming up soon… A review for Nimbuzz, an incredibly useful IM application with surprisingly few flaws.

Lets get started!