AIM is back?

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I like your style.

I’m one of the few who still hang around on AIM. My Buddy List has become a barren wasteland. I’m down to one friend from undergrad and a handful of grad school friends who are old enough to still think AIM is the way to go.

AIM’s new preview seems to answer a lot of the problems I’ve been talking about when it comes to messaging (I was excited for iMessage).

I’ve been using Meebo for the last few weeks and while it did a better job than everything else I’d tried, I was growing tired of its shortcomings. Here’s what I like about the AIM Preview from using it on my iPhone and Mac today …

Desktop and Web App
Web Apps seem to be the simple solution that everyone follows. AIM has one and it seems pretty solid. This is worth mentioning to me since I only remember the old days of AIM Express, which was a terrible web app, although at the time it was probably pushing what was possible inside the browser.

Even better, a desktop app! It looks good but it’s a single window solution. I’m not a tabbed IM person. I like to have all my individual windows. I could get used to it but with it’s a wide view, meaning the buddy list is next to IM window. It doesn’t fit well on my screen since I like to have my buddy list visible next to my browser window.

Messages Stored on Server
I’ve wanted this forever. No matter which platform, your history is there. Meebo has this feature but it was hit or miss in my usage. Trying AIM out so far, it has worked perfectly. History pops right up on the phone.

They are almost as much as I could have hoped. When you get a new message all sessions are alerted (web app, desktop, mobile). Makes sense. When you read the message, the alert then goes away on all devices. So if you read a message on your desktop, the badge the iPhone letting you know you have a new IM goes away, and it happens really quickly. The one issue on the iPhone is that while the badge updates, the notification doesn’t go away. So if I’m chatting on the computer I will come back to a lot of AIM notifications on the Lock Screen. This works with emails on the iPhone, so I assume it can be done for this.

Group Chat
Worth mentioning because it works on mobile too.

Favorite Contacts
I talked about this for iMessage, AIM has it on all the apps. Favorites are saved on the server so they follow you no matter how you connect.

GChat too
At first thought I was worried because not many people are still on AIM, but a lot have moved to GChat since they use GMail. AIM supports both Google and Facebook. I hooked it up to Google and it seems to work just like an AIM account. I don’t like Facebook chat all that much, but it’s also an option.

Now for the few things AIM really needs, besides the ones I’ve mentioned …

iPad App
No iPad app yet, but there is still the old AIM app. Since the system is backwards compatible with old apps, it will save your messages on the server. You just won’t see them on the iPad. Since there was already an app, I’m hopeful for this to be updated soon. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

Active Device Awareness
Still not sure what to call this, but Meebo had this right. When you are engaged in a conversation, not every session needs to be alerted to new IMs. I really think this is the biggest issue for complete adoption. When I’m chatting on the computer, I don’t want my phone buzzing every time I get a response. It should be easy to figure out that I’m actively using the desktop client and then not send messages to the phone. Meebo does this in the web app by making it active when in use but after a few minutes it goes inactive and alerts being going to the phone again. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

Publish Current Device
Another one I’m not sure what to call. Somehow the person you are chatting with should know if you are on a computer or phone. That will help when chatting to know if they may take a while to respond or may only be able to have short responses. (Vote on the AIM Feedback page!)

It also looks like it can attach to social networks to collect status updates and you can read news too. I haven’t tried these features yet, they are just extras to me.

Overall, I’m really impressed with what they’ve released and excited for what they hopefully have in store. I thought I might have to wait for ChatOn to get released on all devices. AIM is really close to what I’ve been begging for. It’s the first time AIM has gotten any love in forever. I hope they are serious. I think people will return. I think most people have fond memories of AIM and just need their friends to go back first. I’ll be there for a while. Also, this might be the best option for using Google Chat.

I just need to find a new Buddy Icon.

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