IM Clients for Lion’s iChat Server

By John Rizzo

Mac OS X Lion Server’s iChat service is compatible with a number of instant-messaging servers and clients. For Macs, the iChat client application is the best to use and most trouble-free, seamlessly accessing all iChat’s features. iChat Server works with older versions of the Mac iChat client as well as the latest and greatest. There are also a number of other Jabber clients for Macs as well.

For Windows, Linux, Unix, mobile phones, and iPads and iPod touches, you can use any instant-messaging client that supports XMPP or is Jabber-compatible. Instant-messaging clients often support multiple protocols.

There are a lot of XMPP clients, and more are popping up all the time. If you’re looking for an open source client for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, try Pidgen or Spark. Trillian is a Windows commercial product with a free version and a $25 pro version.

For iOS, you need to install a Jabber-compatible client app. The $9.99 BeeJive IM with Push is a popular iOS app that supports multiple chat protocols, including XMPP. There are separate versions for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. Another option is Agile Messenger HD Pro ($7.99). Agile Messenger also supports full Facebook support from within the app. Both apps work with text only, not video, and are available from the App Store.

Reality check: Not all XMPP clients and servers communicate smoothly with iChat service. You may find versions of XMPP software that have some issues, and you may find some that work better than others. Do a little testing before distributing a chat client to all your users.