Cross-protocol IM apps for iPhone

I’ve been looking for a good iPhone instant messenger app. I looked at both the excellent Mac OS X application Adium and the PC app Trillian. Since I instant message across my different networks (most of my contacts are distributed across Gtalk, Hotmail, Yahoo! and AIM, with the emphasis on the first three), these two were my first port of call. I also enjoy meebo — particularly useful when working through a proxy server, but I find the iPhone interface poor and I also want an app so that I don’t have have to go to a web page each time.

Adium has made it explicit that for a number of reasons, they will not and cannot develop an iPhone app. Bummer. AIM has an iPhone app, that is by all reports excellent but only for AOL IM. My friends are distributed across networks. Trillian only runs on the PC, but Cerulean Studios, creators of Trillian, is currently in alpha testing for Astra. Astra integrates different instant messenging protocols — not just the standard AIM, ICQ, Gtalk, MSN and Y! — but also MySpace and Bonjour. It gives you tabbed IM containers. Lastly, it also gives you a great web interface (a la meebo) which works on the Mac too, a thick PC client and … an iPhone client.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 07 Trillian-For-Iphone
Currently only in alpha… now I just need to wait for an invite.
Note that there are IM apps for the iPhone that work, but you have to move to the dark side and hack your phone. Apollo looks like a great application — which works with AIM, ICQ, .mac and MSN Hotmail — but it requires you to install the Installer. There are widespread reports of your iPhone ‘bricking’, i.e. dying and not working anymore. I have acquaintances with jail broken phones who are still running old iPhone versions, but refuse to upgrade because they live in permanent fear of getting their iPhones bricked. This is one of the biggest reasons I went the legal route to buy and unlock my phone.

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One Response to “Cross-protocol IM apps for iPhone”

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