Ok so almost every other page on the MobileChat thread has the question, "what's the difference between this and AIM????" so i figure we should just start a FAQ to end this. please add info for each program and i'll tag them here. If there are any mistakes let me know too! update 8/13 10pm: thanks for all the responses, updating whenever i have time. i added a table to help breakdown features update 8/13 1am: updated the table and added PUSH info. Question: Why should i use Palringo or MobileChat vs AIM? Answer: Probably the #1 question i see on the threads from AIM users. There are lots of different features that Palringo and MobileChat offer (listed below) but most people are primarily interested in Palringo and Mobilechat are because they have the ability to chat with other networks (such as MSN, Yahoo, etc). Question: Do any of these programs use up my SMS? Answer: they shouldn't. it's all through the data network. there are alot of conspiracy threads that IMing is costing SMS text but that shouldn't be the case. Do a search to see what others are saying. i'll post links later. Question: What's so special about PUSH? Answer: Because of the way the iPhone OS was developed, No background apps will be allowed. This presents a problem for chat clients since you typically want your online friends to know that you can be messaged at anytime. But since the apps aren't allowed to run in the background, you're signed off from chat portals (ie AIM/MSN etc). To solve this Apple will be releasing PUSH in firmware 2.1 (released sometime in September). Chat portals that do have the ability to keep you online, can now notify you you have a message waiting on your phone. All this without you having the app open. There have been temporary workarounds till PUSH does come out. such as AIM will keep you logged in for 15min after you exit the app. that way you can catch any messages you might have missed when you get back. The biggest reason why you're seeing PUSH mentioned for Mobilechat, is the fact they have gone further by having a server-side connection management. Because of this they'll keep your connection live and even offer to send messages to via SMS or via e-mail to inform you that you have messages. Question: Ok so what are the differences between each app? Answer: Here's a short breakdown of what features each program has Note: NV = Not Verified. Below is a bit more details on their features: What all of them have the ability to do: - Send SMS - this feature allows you to chat with someone on their cellphone via the RECIPIENT's SMS. You will be going through the DATA so you won't be charged SMS messages. But your recipient will be charged SMS messages if they don't have Unlimited Text Messaging Plan. - All 3 apps should allow the ability to continue to run if the phone is in SLEEP function (verified for AIM and Palringo. Thanks LtRammstein). But once you hit the home key it will exit the APP and will NOT continue to run. AIM - Created by AOL Cost - Free - Chat ONLY for AIM network (AOL, AIM, ICQ, MobileMe, .MAC) - View Expressions - Being able to take a picture from your phone and set it as your buddy icon. - AIM/SMS Blast (send a message to multiple people) - When you exit the app on the iPhone (literally, AIM will leave you logged into the server for 15min. There's an option to log off as soon as you exit the app too. (thanks to brinycbri) Palringo Instant Messenger - Created by Palringo Limited Cost - Free - Requires an account with Palringo (free sign up) - Chat with all major IM networks (AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Gadu Gadu, ICQ, Jabber, and Windows Live Messenger). you must have an account with the respected programs - Ability to send/recieve photos via your Camera or photo library. - Ability to send/listen to vocal IMs. This feature is new and it allows you to send a quick recording. great for not being able to type. - Update Status message for all networks. - Chat bubble style messaging (semi-mimic of the SMS on the iPhone) - Supports URLs. - Has it's own group chat identification with other iPod Touch and iPhone users. (thanks LtRammstein) - Supports Multiple accounts - Once you exit the app, you be signed off your chat. Although i think MSN/Yahoo and other misc chat portals may still keep your offline messages and send them over when you sign back on (need to verification). MobileChat - by twenty08 Cost - $2.99 - Supports AIM/ICQ/.Mac/MobileME, Windows Live/MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk and Jabber - Server-side connection management. All connections will be managed by their servers. which leads to, - MobileChat offers an alternate PUSH right now. They will send you an email or SMS messge (your choice) with the IM you get. (thanks to ViVidboarder, jaseone, and Dranakin). This is a big plus for a lot of people - Supports Multiple accounts (ie can be signed onto 3 AIM accounts) - Buddy icon Support - Change/Set Buddy icon via Camera/Photo Library (thanks dranakin) - It's ALREADY PUSH compatible but still have to wait for Apple's 2.1 firmware/update. - IM to SMS - send/receive pictures review by a fellow macrumor poster here. (thanks R-Fly) Question: ok i've seen all the features but i still don't know which one i should go with. Answer: - If you only have AIM network friends and you're completely happy with AIM, then it doesn't hurt to stay with it. Will AIM have the features that the other apps have? possible and probable (but don't count on it ever being able to communicate with other chat portals) If you have friends in the other networks, it's really boils down to Palringo and MobileChat. I recommend trying both. Palringo is free so doesn't hurt to try it first. don't like it then take the plunge ($3) and get MC. there are lots of complaints of MC right now, but don't judge it too quickly. it JUST came out and their servers are taking a beating. Consider waiting a few days to a week for things to stabilize.