Yahoo Messenger 1.0 on iPhone
You can sign in as invisible to Yahoo Messenger for iPhone, but it won't store your credentials. (Credit: CNET)

On Monday we noted in a First Look video that the Yahoo Messenger feature in the new Yahoo Mobile chat application for iPhone wasn't as strong as we'd like. On Tuesday, Yahoo released a distinct Yahoo Messenger for iPhone application that's free through the iTunes App Store, and tailor-made for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Yahoo Messenger for iPhone has many of the same core chatting features you'll find on Yahoo Messenger for the desktop: sending IM and SMS messages, support for emoticons, status updates, adding new contacts, and photo sharing (either an image from the camera roll or a new picture taken from within the application itself).

Yahoo Messenger for iPhone looks clean and crisp, and has a similar feel to the desktop chat experience. It delivers notifications of new incoming chats while you're in a different conversation window, as well as alerting you on a dedicated messaging screen. We like that when a new message arrives, you hear the familiar Yahoo ping, and that the app buzzes to get your attention when the screen goes dark; however, we don't see a way to turn that off in the Settings menu.

Unlike the Yahoo Messenger built into Yahoo Mobile, this standalone version incorporates the iPhone's spell check. While mostly good for fat-fingered typos, the spell check feature is less convenient when you realize the words "hee hee" have been translated as "her her." We had some explaining to do.

While the application won't be able to run in the background on the iPhone, it will keep you signed in, but idle, for 10 minutes while you're off playing with other apps. After 10 minutes is up, you'll need to log in anew to continue chatting. As a side note, Yahoo Messenger on the iPhone will log you off your desktop Messenger.

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.