Weekly App Review: Meebo

meebo_logo.jpgWith Instant Messaging (IM) a ways off for the iPhone, what are your alternatives? Have no fear! Your IM saviour is here... Meebo! What is Meebo? Meebo is a free web-based IM client that connects to several clients including: Meebo, AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, GTalk, ICQ and Jabber. How does this client favor with all of the services? Read on to find out more...

Interface

Meebo has a very clean interface with subtle hues that blend together. I know, it sounds like I am appraising artwork, but Meebo's interface is really clean. You begin by selecting the service you want to use, let's use AIM for example, your login, password and a convenient "remember me" checkbox. After you have filled in the appropriate information, tap Sign On and Meebo will sign you into that service.

Once logged in, you are treated to a familiar IM interface with all of the standard amenities such as who is online/offline and your status. The status does not pull from online, so if you have several saved status, they do not transfer. However, since Meebo uses cookies effectively, you can create your own local custom status messages.

meebo_login.jpg meebo_smart_buddy.jpg

Messaging

You can begin an IM chat by simply tapping the persons name you wish to chat with. You are given a simple text box on the bottom of the screen. Tap inside of the box and it expands Safari's soft keyboard to enter in your text. You can then tap "Send" when you are done composing your message. Chatting occurs relatively quickly. Meebo appears to use a what I call "open connection". What I mean by this is while you are chatting, the iPhone data icon located by the EDGE or Wi-Fi icon is constantly spinning. This means you get your IM replies as they happen! Way to go Meebo! If you are done with a conversation you can tap the icon to the left of the text box to bring you back to your list of contacts.

Conclusion

I really like Meebo, but it is not perfect. The biggest issue that I have found is that you can only be connected to one service at a time. I don't think this is too much of a distractor though, the service is streamlined and accessible and most of all it is free. It is only a matter of time before there is a native client on the iPhone whether it is Apple's own iChat or chat clients from other companies (iAdium anyone?)

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Look and Feel: 5
  • Navigation: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Reliability: 5

Overall: 4.75

Pros:

  • Fills a need on the iPhone
  • Free!
  • Clean, pleasant interface
  • Quick, even on EDGE
  • Most popular services to choose from
  • Emoticons automatically convert when IM'ing

Cons:

  • Can only access one service at a time :-(

Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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