Comparing Yahoo Messenger and AIM iPhone apps…

A few days ago, I posted a quick blurb to my Twitter that said, “On mature reflection, it’s become clear to me that the Yahoo Messenger app for the iPhone is better than the AIM app.” I didn’t expect anything to come of it, really… but then Yahoo’s official Twitter re-tweeted my post, followed by a couple of other people.

As I ended up posting, “Disclaimer: despite the retweet by @yahoo, my personal opinion should not be confused with that of any professional reviewer. :-)”

Seriously, though, it’s my experience that the Yahoo app is just a better program. Both do instant messaging, of course, and allow you to set your custom status message. AIM also has the ability to use something called “Lifestream” to allow you to get updates from supported social networking sites, which I suppose is kind of cool. (I haven’t used it, myself, as I prefer using the official Facebook app and Twitterrific.) Both apps are iPhone OS 3.0 capable, and support notifications.

As far as actual messaging goes, though, I find the Yahoo program to be superior. AIM only allows for text messaging. Yahoo will allow you to send photos as well. AIM seems to have performance issues as well, or at least it does on my iPhone 3G. Switching from the buddy list or active IMs list to an actual conversation lags, as does switching between conversations. When an IM is sent or received, the app “freezes” while processing the request; if you’re typing while a message comes in, nothing appears on the screen until the message is displayed, at which point everything you typed all appears at once. By contrast, the Yahoo app is quick and responsive, and I never have any lag times switching between lists and/or conversations, nor when I am sending/receiving IMs.

Now, technically AIM has one advantage over Yahoo: you can be signed in via two locations at once on AIM, and the one that is set available as opposed to away is considered primary. (If both are set available or set away, IMs go to both.) However, on the iPhone app, this isn’t handled properly. I have myself added as a buddy in AIM so that I can see what it sets my status as to everyone else. When I load AIM on the phone, I typically set the same status message as I do on the PC, except replacing “Call/SMS the cell if needed” with “I will answer messages as able”. By all rights, I should then appear as available on AIM with that message. (I never set myself away on mobile AIM.) Instead, I still appear as away, except my status message is now erased. It kind of defeats the purpose of telling people I’m available, you know? At least while Yahoo signs me off the PC when I log in via the iPhone app, it at least gives the correct status message… and I can always sign back in at the PC when I get back to it.

As it stands, I’m finding myself the Yahoo Messenger app more than I do the AIM app anyway, as I’m finding more people I talk to on it regularly than on AIM. However, considering I do have friends and family who use AIM only, it would help if I had a properly working AIM app for the iPhone. The sad thing is that it didn’t use to be this way; as I recall, the above mentioned problems only started happening some time around the free version becoming available. Here’s hoping AOL gets their act together and releases a version that fixes the bugs and performance issues…