I’ve mentioned a few resources and examples to aid in building your own iOS client on the established AIM/ICQ/Jabber chat networks.
Here’s an interesting open source project if you’re looking to take things further and creating your own custom messenger called Spika submitted by Vanja Andric from Clover Studio. Spika includes an open source client app, and backend server.
Spika includes a wide variety of features such as direct and group messaging, media sharing, and location sharing – nearly everything you’d want in a chat client.
You can find the Spika app in the App Store here – note that much of it is in Japanese.
If you’re seriously looking into putting together your own custom messaging system you may want to check it out.
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