When the original BeeJive IM for the iPhone won our App vs. App Instant Messenger Showdown, Brian thought it was a killer app with some killer features, just a tad shy of IM perfection. We agreed and named it our 2008 TiPby Editors' Choice Award winner for best Social Networking/IM app. Now that version 2.0 has landed -- and Apple's Push Notification Service still very much hasn't -- can the old best be the newer better? Read on to find out!
Brian's original BeeJive review summed things up thusly:
BeejiveIM is simply one of the best applications available in the App Store: it is polished, it is well constructed and it is stable. It overcomes the lack of background apps and push notification on the iPhone by coming up with its own solution. It handles multiple accounts very well and is designed almost perfectly. The BeejiveIM team certainly needs to be commended for such great work. In the end, both IM Clients are great but BeejiveIM is simply in a class by itself.
The biggest change to BeeJive 2.0 is no more simple nor profound than this: it's now media aware. Not only can you send plain text, you can send photos and voice notes, and receive and view files (the typical list supported by the iPhone including music, video, MS Office, iWork, etc.) The already super-customizable Settings now lets you tweak the send/receive sounds as well. And integration has stepped up to include hooks into the iPhone contacts list, keeping everything nicely consolidated.
Adding photos and voice notes is managed via a drop down menu. Tap the title bar at the top and the options appear arrayed around the four corners of the menu (other chats, iconified by their pictures, run across the middle for easy switching -- easier still if you've enabled the geeky shake-to-switch feature in the setting).
Linking a Buddy to an Address Book Card is fairly straight forward: you tap on the Buddy list, tap on the picture of the Buddy you want to link, tap on "Link to Address Book Card" and the contact listings will slide over. From there, tap the "+" sign top left to add a new contact, or choose from an existing one.
What We Hope Will Be
Since the aforementioned Push Notification Service from Apple -- where a centralized server sends out sounds, badges, and alerts similar to how calendar events pop up or the Email icon shows how many unread messages you have -- is still vaporware at this point, some of our hopes and dreams for BeeJive (and other IM, Twitter, and push-worthy apps) are in stuck in limbo.
Workarounds remain: BeeJive's server will keep you logged in as long as you like and send you email alerts when you have new messages -- which are pushed if you have Exchange ActiveSync or MobileMe set up.
SMS may be desirous to people in the USA, but since I'm not, and most companies can't afford to send SMS messages outside the USA anymore, it's not on my radar.
More broadly, as mentioned in last week's editorial on Twitter, SMS, and how interface is the application, in general we're still waiting for that one UI to rule them all. Transparently sending and receiving IMs, Tweets, SMS, presence and status, short emails, or whatever pipe you hook up behind them should be the Next Big Thing. If Apple doesn't build it in, hopefully BeeJive or another player will add it on.
If BeeJive 1.0 was TiPb's favorite iPhone IM app, then BeeJive 2.0 clearly makes a good thing better. Given the limitations on multitasking inherent in the iPhone SDK, BeeJive has instead focused on improving the media communications experience of IM, something which will no doubt appeal to the types of users using iPhones.
Pricing and Availability
BeeJive IM 2.0 will be (or is, depending on when you read this) available via the iTunes App Store and will run you $15.99. If you want a premium IM experience on your iPhone, it's definitely worth the premium price.
TiPb Review Rating
(Note, technically I'd give it a 4.75, better than BeeJive 1.0's 4.5, but still leaving room for the Push Notification enabled version of BeeJive IM we expect... whenever we see the service launched by Apple)