One of my most important applications on any platform that I use is my instant messaging application. The Apple iPad is no exception to this, and there are two big players in the IM world of the iPad as far as I’m concerned: BeejiveIM and IM+.
Choosing which to use can be a tough decision, so we’re going to make it as easy as possible for you by comparing these two apps head to head, side to side and toe to toe.
Round 1: Look and Feel
When looking at the two applications side by side, there’s no doubt that BeejiveIM is the busier of the two. When holding the iPad horizontally (mine is almost always held this way), the window is split up in to three different areas, one for your list of contacts, the middle for your current conversation, and the right for your open conversations. In contrast to this, IM+ goes for simplicity with its user interface. In landscape mode, you have only two sections: one for your contacts and a larger area for your current conversation.
In my opinion, the IM+ interface is far superior to Beejive, because there isn’t as much wasted space. When using Beejive, the right hand side of my screen has only a few open conversations, completely wasting a lot of space. IM+ elegantly allows you to swipe between conversations, which not only feels natural, but also leaves more room for what matters: your conversation! The only down side of this is that you can’t see all your open conversations at a glance, but this is a trade off I’m willing to make.
IM+ takes this round easily, with a superior GUI to Beejive.
IM+ iPad App Screenshot
Round 2: Functionality
I must say, although Beejive had a torrid time against IM+ in the looks department, it has a lot of functionality that is very welcome in an instant messaging app. In the conversation section of the window, there are four buttons. The camera icon allows you to browse your photos within the app, and select one to send to whoever you’re talking to.
Another feature that really impressed me was the voice note feature. This allows you to record a message right on the iPad, hit send, and put it right in your conversation. It’s a fantastic feature to have on the iPad, especially if you’re chatting with someone who hasn’t got Skype or a similar service, and you want to send them a voice memo. The last feature available here is the ability to take the chat log and email it to yourself or anyone else, super useful for minutes or some important information.
How does IM+ stack up, then? Unfortunately, it’s not got the array of features that you’ll find in Beejive, but you can subscribe to a speech recognition service to save your precious fingers from too much typing. The best feature here, though, is one nowhere to be seen in Beejive, and that’s a built in browser. Until the iPad receives iOS 4.2 in November, there isn’t any multitasking for those who don’t want to jailbreak, and that’s a deal breaker for many. With a built in browser, you can browse the web and chat at the same time, although IM+ does stay open in the background and offer push notifications when messages are received.
With IM+’s built in browser, it’s a close call, but the sheer functionality and extra goodies available in Beejive give it the victory in this round.
BeejiveIM iPad App Screenshot
Round 3: Price!
For most apps, price wouldn’t be a big deal, but you may be surprised to hear that both the iPhone and iPad versions of Beejive (no universal unfortunately) will set you back £5.99. In comparison, IM+ has a free lite version available so you can use it with ads. If you’d prefer, you can pay £5.99 for the Pro version, though, and it’s a universal app for iPhone and iPad.
This may be the toughest comparison I’ve ever done, as each app is unique and has its own strengths. If you’re looking for something with a simple UI, IM+ is definitely the one for you, but if you’re wanting some serious functionality, then I’d go for Beejive. Yikes, I guess it wasn’t easy after all!