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BeeJive IM 2.0 for iPhone

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!

What Was

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.

What Is

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.

Conclusion

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)

TiPb 4.5 Star rating

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Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

36 Comments
  • Great review.
    Your sentence "can the old best be the newer better" gave me the impression that this version will be "lesser" that 1.0.
    Shouldn't it be "can the old better be the newer best?
    Again, good review for a wonderful app.
  • Apple will probobly not bring out push until the iPhone is in it's next generation. With the amount of crashing the 3g does due to memory issues I am sure having background apps would make it even more unstable
  • Freaking awesome
  • Source tells me Apple wants their "push" services to come only from MobileMe. Integrating it into the phone somehow natively would cannibalize MobileMe sales. Prepare for higher MobileMe prices in the future as it attempts to replace BES service
  • I can receive files? A link, which I go to? or is it an actual file being sent to me? stored where?
  • Wow I'm sooooo late to this program. Palringo goodbye!
  • 9:03am eastern and I don't see the update yet, grrr.
    BeejiveIM is without a doubt, the best instant messaging program out there... I was a Sidekick3 owner before the iPhone 3G and that usually gets everyone's vote as the best instant messager device, but with BeejiveIM you can't even compare.
    After this update, they plan on implementing Facebook IM. Now THAT is what I am excited for!
  • It's still not clear from this article if icon support has been fixed. The thing that bugs me now is that whenever I tap the title bar to switch, I get two blank icons of the buddys whose icons are not supported... and I can't tell which person is which (because the names aren't underneath)... and there's currently no way of adding my own photos to them (other than on AIM). Even my own Yahoo icon doesn't show.
    Sure, this is just cosmetic and doesn't affect functionality, but I hope they'd fix broken sloppy-looking interface problems before adding new features. If they haven't, I'm subtracting 4 stars from my current 5.
  • i was litterly about to buy this app before i read 15.99.... granted im still a stupid in college so i dont NEED push as much as you guys too..... push would def be pretty good though so im just gonna hope that apple will incorporate it poss at mac world!?!
  • when is this update due out? i couldnt find any confirmed date
  • What does the "Exclude Disconnects" option in settings do fro Bejjive????
  • @Manny That is in the 'Network and Push' section, so that means you won't get notified via E-mail/SMS when you get disconnected... only when you get a new message.
    FYI: If you want SMS notifications you can do 'xxxxxxxxxx@txt.att.net'. Keep in mind that you will get changed towards your SMS rate... so if you're a heavy IM'er you might want to be sure you have the unlimited SMS plan. Otherwise, once you go over your limit, extra charges will occur!
  • When is this updated baby out?
  • Tomorrow is what I read on another blog that got the sneak peek.
  • Well, I just updated to 2.0, but they still haven't fixed 1.0
    They add new useless features and can't even fix icon support like the lousy free IMs have managed to achieve... so I can tell who the h*ll I'm IM'ing? Totally unprofessional. I'm changing my 5 stars to 1 star. Very neglectful and unacceptable.
  • this sounds nice but free palringo to 15.99 is such a big jump, if the have a 50% off sale let me know
  • Just d/led it. Awesome!!!! I switched from Palringo a while back and glad I did. Being able to remain "online" is great! Now that you can send photos is icing on the cake.
  • I agree BeeJive is far superior to Palringo! I look forward to see what they do in the future with it as well!
  • I can't seem to view a .mov file that was sent. Can I save it or view it somehow?
  • Can you im with skype after the 2.0 update?
  • I upgraded this morning. A little more crashy than 1.1.x but I like the new features. Been sending pictures galore -- buh bye MMS! -- and love the ability to link contacts to my buddy list. This is an example of data integration between apps that Apple's PIM applications could learn a LOT from.
    I agree with the poster who commented on icon support... I do wish that worked more consistently. I still get confusing results for my Yahoo accounts. sigh But that is a minor issue for me overall.
    I have had so-so performance from trying to take a photo from within the application. I've had much better performance by taking photo outside app and sending from my camera roll.
    I'll need to play with this some more when I'm home later to see what the other end sees when I send them media. But I've been surprising a few of my friends with media stuff during the day and none of them had any problem opening what I sent. So I count that as a pretty good result.
    But with some of the crashes in odd spots, and weird display artificats in the title bar area, I'm working on some emails to support and expecting we'll see bug fixes pretty rapidly. :)
  • @bouncewithb not from what I can tell
  • @alexv available as of this morning
  • @Josh Hofer: I've noticed that if I leave Beejive as the open app when the phone goes to sleep (or I sleep it) then it actually still continues to run (hmm). Instead of getting SMS'es, I get a weird beeping notification (rapid 4 or 5 bleeps). When I wake the phone up into Beejive, it refreshes and I proceed. Seems to cut down on the SMS'es.
  • @steve: Well, I can't disagree that it's annoying. But I'm a pretty heavy IM user (up to 10 chats going on at once during busy times) and yet I don't seem to have a huge problem telling my chat sessions apart. Now, I do agree that is difficult when you are scrolling through the icon-only display in the title bar pop-out... but in cases where I have several gray heads, I just bounce back to the session list with a double-tap and work around it that way.
    Sure, it's an annoyance, but it doesn't really hurt usability that much in my experience. I don't know how much energy was focused on adding media support, but given the function displays I suspect it was pretty involved. I would definitely like to see more IM service support (esp Facebook) and configurable auto-email on session close (ah, memories of Verichat).
    But is it worth changing a 5 to a 1? Not in my opinion. That just sounds punitive to me. shrug
  • @Bill Taroli:
    I just hate leapfrog updates. The 1 star is for "neglect" and yes, it is indeed punitive. Just as all of the "Best App Ever" reviews are "sucking up" before thoroughly examining everything (which I confess I once did also).
    If there was a problem achieving icon support, I wouldn't make a big deal of it... but the crappy IMs can support them. The fact that "it's not a big deal" is exactly the point. Why not fix it if it's not a big deal? All Beejive cares about is AIM, and now their focusing their next efforts on Group Chats for the kiddies.
  • I have a question, I'm bout to buy this app, but I want to know if it runs in the background. I've read alot of reviews but some ppl say that it does and some ppl say it doesn't. I just want to know the truth. Also around my area I only get an edge signal. No wifi. Oh and another question does beejive work similiar to the aol app on the tmobile sidekicks... Sorry for so many questions.
  • @Steve - Instead of tapping a user icon to change chat, hold your finger on it and it highlights with the username above. Slide from icon to icon and the one under your finger highlights... with name. Release when you find the user you want and it switches to that chat. Perfectly intuitive and doesn't clutter the interface up with a dozen usernames.
    PEBCAK... :)
  • @JFury - It doesn't run in the background (not currently possible on the iphone) but it uses a workaround. Beejives servers keep you "online" for up to 24 hours after you close the app and you can configure push email to notify when you receive a new IM, then you open the app and it retrieves the messages.
    Edge works fine for me when I'm on the underground but mileage seems to vary for some people in flaky connection areas, I've had occasional problems when I've moved from Edge to 3G (or vice versa) when the app is running. Very rarely it gets twisty and won't connect at all after this happens but flicking the phone to airplane mode and back again has always resolved this for me (or you could restart the phone, but the airplane flick is quicker).
  • Thanks, Arstus... that'll work for now. ;)
  • thank u arstus I appreciate it
  • i can send pics and voice- but i cannot receive. i have 1st generation iphone- is this why? can you not receive on the edge network? i would like to be able to receive like they mention on the website- but aim on a computer says, "this chat does not accept file transfers"
    what the heck?
  • I would like the old Beejive back it worked well and was free and was not a useless icon on my phone. Previous users should be for free.
  • I have tried to send a SMS message to a mobile through beejive on my yahoo account and I get the following error.
    Yahoo servers rejected the sms validate. Response code is 401.
    Any ideas?
  • If you have tmobile and you wanna get your Beejive alerts just like text messages just go set up the push messaging and use your mobile phone email which is 9999999999@tmomail.net (replace the 9's with ur number) the messages will come thru as text and just seconds after they message u thru beejive!!!!!
  • This is on sale this week - :)