Version Reviewed: 3.4.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration [rating:4/5]
User Interface [rating:3.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3.5/5]
Please note: Out of respect, I have hidden the identity of my friends and family throughout this review.
As I'm sure you'll agree, there are basic functions a mobile phone like the iPhone should come with. Seeing as though Apple left off its iChat software for whatever reason they saw fit, it then fell to the App Store and Apple's current reservoir of registered, talented developers to fill this gaping hole. Nowadays, instant messaging is a fierce business, with competition between the big names being most of time, rife. Because of this, the App Store is now full of instant messaging start ups among the big names, providing as a whole the instant messaging fix we all crave on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis.
Known to most for their browser based chat service, eBuddy allows its 30 million users to connect to other users around the world to connect with chat services. With rich emoticons and text styles, the last couple of years have seen eBuddy really become the choice for most while away from their more capable desktop chat client. Now the once browser-based client has come to the iPhone, but just how does it fair against its many rivals? - Quite well, actually.
eBuddy pro is the premium version of the FREE eBuddy client offered by eBuddy. As a result, eBuddy Pro comes with no ads and a tonne more features. As with most chat clients you'll have to create an account before you can start chatting, in this case, an eBuddy ID. Once created (takes about 1-2 minutes), you can then go ahead and setup your chat accounts. The app allows you to drag in accounts from a number of existing networks, including: MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, GTalk, Facebook, ICQ, MySpace and Hyves. Once eBuddy verifies your account you're ready to roll! Your buddies will be shown in the 'Buddies' tab, just one of fives tabs across the bottom of the app. once you start chatting with someone their chat will show up in the 'Chats' tab as an active one. Need to manage your chat accounts? Head on over to the 'Chats' tab. here you can add, delete and modify your chat accounts, as well as signing into or logging out of all your accounts simultaneously.
Once in a chat, you have a few different thing you can do. Firstly you'll see above the five tabs along the bottom you have your chat box. If you just want to chat you simply tap this box, compose a message and hit 'Send' (bottom right) .. your message will then be wished off into the night. Want to add emotion to your message? Tapping the smiley face button right of the chat box will throw up a panel of emoticons. Found the one you want? Simply tap it and it will be added to your message. Alternatively if you happen to have Japanese Emoji enabled you can use this too, although it's worth noting that these will only show up on your recipients end if they too are using an iPhone messaging client. For full compatibility I found using the built in emoticons worked a treat.
The feature which makes eBuddy Pro stand out though is its user customization. This aspect of the app really makes eBuddy Pro feel more like a desktop client, especially due the lack of customization offered in iPhone OS itself from the get-go. With the setting of the app you'll have the option to change the whole theme of the app, including bubble colours and chat backgrounds, choosing from 11 built in options. While good, I found that user themes within eBuddy Pro could have gone a little bit deep, allowing the user to change specific colours or specific objects inside each theme offered. Other than that, with a tap of your finger, you can really make Buddy Pro your own.
Missed a message, no worries! eBuddy Pro also has push notifications. Here you can close the app and it will alert you of all new messages you receive, just like if you were to receive text messages. Also, in the settings on the app you can also set how long you wish eBuddy Pro to keep you signed in for, before it signs you out again. Options for this run from 15 minutes all the way up to a whopping 3 days!
Overall, eBuddy Pro is a great customizable instant messaging and chat offering from a long-standing player. I think the app could benefit from a few more user customizable options, but other than that, the app is great for what it was designed for, connecting you to your friends and family on the move.