Digsby IM beta gets a speed boost, search

Rising-star all-in-one IM app Digsby beta updated on Wednesday, officially announcing new features and a build that cuts CPU usage by 50 percent.

Updated at 3:30 PM with a note on Digsby's methodology.

Digsby search bar
Ctrl+F gives you the search bar to summon Web search and contacts. (Credit: CNET/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt)

Rising-star all-in-one IM app Digsby received an update to its beta on Wednesday, officially announcing feature additions that Digsby tested in an earlier alpha release we had reported on in April.

A boost to performance power reduces Digsby's CPU usage by 50 percent, the company said. That makes it a whopping 20 percent more efficient than Digsby claimed it was in April's alpha test. (Read note below.) Avid users can thank some back-end work with a coding language update and a move to a new compiler for this reduction in resources.

On the usability side, Digsby is sporting the new and enhanced features we saw in the alpha test. The best is a hidden search bar that pops up when you press Ctrl + F. In addition to summoning buddies when you type their names, it can also conduct Web searches on Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube. This Web search aspect differentiates Digsby's search from those employed in other IM clients.

Digsby has added an option that will automatically keep new IM windows from popping up by default, instead letting the unread messages blink in the tray. In the message window, the company has added four additional emoticon packs, which you can enable one at a time via the Preferences menu (click "Conversations" and "Enable emoticons" next.)

The new beta build also lets you update your MySpace status. This rounds out its update services to top social networks--Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have long been supported. Digsby also improves the stability for file transfers for Windows Live Messenger (MSN), AIM, and ICQ, and can now give you an 'invisible' presence in Google Talk.

For those who have kept Digsby at arm's length until now, the faster, less demanding version of this app sweetens the deal. With instant messaging, social networking, e-mail access, and skin customizations under its belt, it's a must-try chat app for IM aficionados.

Note: Digsby shared a real-world methodology they used to arrive at the 50 percent CPU drop between betas. In a development environment, they installed the two versions of the Digsby IM client in two different locations, logging into the same account on both instances. Then they switched on the individual protocols that let you log in from more than one location--AIM, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, e-mail protocols, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Both ran for 24 hours to compare the CPU strain as buddies signed on and off, and as e-mails and notices poured in.

Since Digsby only allows one version of itself to launch at a time, this was not something we tested.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.