Busy-bee IM

While we're not ready to crown it the all-around champ, we will concede that it's one of the best in its chatting class

Beejive IM is one of those mobile multinetwork chat clients that's a joy to use--it's fast, graphically rich, and just works. Pricewise, it's at the taller end of the scale, but the feature set and usability will appeal to serious chatters. Pronounced beehive, (believe it or not) Beejive has one of the best methods for handling multiple IM conversations across multiple chat networks that we've seen, from the badge alerts that appear in two places, to the hidden menu that has you switching among open conversations, sending picture and audio IMs, and e-mailing out an archive of the chat. Beejive tops some rivals by adding the file name and file size when it sends a picture or audio note, and it can send files directly (without the Beejive-hosted link) to MSN and AIM buddies.

Its extra features also help Beejive stand out. Push notification of missed chats arrived speedily and offered a fast way to jump to the chat window from elsewhere on the iPhone. Customization options have you adding wallpaper to the chat screen, changing text bubble colors, shaking to switch chats (cute, but practical?), and choosing multiple viewing options when opening a URL. Beejive also supports embedded pictures within the chat, and can link buddy to an address book record, so you can start a call or email from Beejive.

Beejive does lack some features found elsewhere on the market, including support for Twitter and Skype and geolocation. It also places many of its customization settings within the overarching iPhone Settings menu instead of within the app, so if you may find yourself switching back and forth as you first configure Beejive. While we're not ready to crown it the all-around champ, we will concede that it's one of the best in its chatting class.

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