Using a mobile instant messaging application makes staying in touch with friends on the go a cinch. Here's a look at the five most popular mobile instant messaging applications.
Photo by Zawezome.
Meebo (Android/BlackBerry/iOS/Web-Based, Free)
Meebo's mobile instant messaging applications sport features like landscape mode for marathon messaging sessions and push notifications, so you'll see instant message alerts just like text messages. While the built-in features vary slightly from mobile platform to mobile platform, the really killer feature for Meebo is the cross-platform synchronisation. Every mobile app has access to your full chat history, so the chat session on your Android phone can continue on your desktop when you log into Meebo at home. All versions of Meebo are free. Meebo supports dozens of popular to obscure IM platforms including Yahoo!, AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, MySpace, ICQ, Jabber, and Google Talk. Meebo is a free application.
Trillian (Android/BlackBerry/iOS, $US4.99)
Trillian is a cross-platform instant messaging app that makes it simple to synchronise your IM contacts across every device you use, from the desktop to your smartphone. The mobile client supports insertion of cameraphone pictures into messages, notification bar alerts, tabbed chats, and landscape mode on supported phones. Trillian for iOS and BlackBerry devices is $US4.99, while the Android beta is currently free. It supports Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook Chat, AIM, ICQ and Google Talk IM networks.
Beejive (Android/BlackBerry/iOS, $US9.99)
Beejive sports a clean interface and custom grouping of contacts across IM networks. Your buddy list is linked to your phone contacts so you can easily call or email a buddy directly from the chat window. On supported phones you can transfer files, insert your GPS location into a chat message, and set up custom alert profiles. Beejive is $US9.99 and supports AIM, MobileMe, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Chat, MySpace Chat, Facebook Chat, Jabber and Google Talk.
BlackBerry Messenger (BlackBerry, Free)
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is an interesting entry in this week's Hive Five because of its closed nature. Unlike the other mobile messaging applications gathered here, BBM doesn't let you send messages to a myriad of networks. BBM only sends messages to other BlackBerry devices. You can send messages of unlimited length, receive message delivery confirmation, and share media like photos and video with multiple contacts at once. You can easily create groups of contacts to message them all at once, such as a group for your snowboarding group or for a project at work. Despite BBM working only on BlackBerry devices, you'll find plenty of chat applications for iOS and Android phones billing themselves as "like BlackBerry Messenger!"—a testament to the popularity of the simple design. BBM is a free application.
Google Talk (Android/BlackBerry/iOS/Web-Based, Free)
Google Talk for mobile devices makes it easy to chat with other Google Talk and AIM users. Google Talk is available for Android and BlackBerry phones as a standalone client and for iOS devices as an optimised web site. The Android and BlackBerry versions sport custom notifications and multiple chat windows. Google Talk doesn't support dozens of mobile servers like the other options in the Hive—although interoperability with XMPP services is part of the overall Google Talk mission—but it offers a simple and effective interface for Google Talk and AIM communication.