AIM Making Comeback; Worth it?

25 Jan

I still remember the first person I ever added to my buddy list – my fifth-grade girlfriend. I was so new to the system, I thought “LOL” meant “lots of love.” When her response to one of my messages was “LOL,” we broke up because I thought she was moving too fast. By the time I realized she just thought I was funny, it was too late. She was dating that tall kid named Joe who sat in the back of the classroom.

Joe was the second person on my buddy list.

These nostalgically heart-breaking memories came rushing back Tuesday when I found out AOL was preparing to release its latest version of AIM. (Disclosure: I work for, an AOL-owned company.)

I decided to take it for a spin.

You can download the new AIM preview here.

Please note this is based on AIM for Mac.

The highlights, according to me:

  • Sign in with Facebook, and access your full Facebook chat list
  • Sweet new logo
  • Take chats off the record and/or go “invisible”
  • You can get news updates from HuffPost and TechCrunch (AOL properties)
  • You can connect Twitter, which includes notifications for direct messages, RTs, mentions and follows
  • And Instagram, which includes notifications for likes and comments on your photos
  • And GMail for new email notifications
  • And Facebook for friend requests, messages, wall posts, comments, likes and photo, video and status tags
  • You can add your GMail contacts. This means GMail, Facebook and AIM friends all in one place
  • I like the bubble-style chat display, along with the way conversations are stacked on the left side above the buddy list

The lowlights, also according to me:

  • I had to download a new version of Flash to change my profile picture from my Facebook default, meaning I had to save this post, close Chrome, and come back to finish the post (Yes, nitpicking)
  • I’m trying to find a way to only be available on one platform, other than disconnecting accounts. In other words, sometimes I want to be available on Facebook, but not GChat, but I don’t want to go through the trouble of unlinking GChat every time. I suppose I could just sign into the actual Facebook platform
  • You can post “Updates,” but there’s no rich-formatting previewing or posting
  • After I posted said “Update,” I couldn’t find it. I’m looking for a timeline or newsfeed, if you will, but don’t see one
  • There’s no “Lifestream.” If you don’t know what this is, never mind, but it was cool
  • There are no “buddy groups.” Everyone’s in one big list
  • No timestamps on IMs
  • No font customization
  • Cannot “rename” buddies to something other than their user names, but this is pretty minor if most of your buddies are listed by their real names on Facebook and GChat
  • No chat rooms, but who needs that when you have Google+ Hangout, right?

Check it out and let me know what you think.


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