New preview version of AIM released, trying to be relevant

AOl's AIM software has been around for a long time (it first launched way back in 1997) and it still has millions of users. But the software hasn't had a good makeover in a while and it has also lost users due to text messaging on smart phones as well as social networks like Twitter. Today, AOL launched a new preview version of a planned revamp of the AIM software in an attempt to make itself more relevant to today's texting and Twitter audience. The preview can be downloaded for the PC and Mac platforms along with the iOS and Android operating system. You can also check out a web-only version of AIM at the preview site (shown above).

The new AIM (which even has a new cursive logo) allows users cross-platform functionality, which means that you can start a message with a friend on your iPhone, continue that same message on your PC and continue it again via the AIM web version (don't worry, you can also take your chats "off the record" if you want).  Messages also appear on the side of the friends list rather than via a separate window. You can also create group chats with the new software. If a friend sends you a video or picture link, the video or picture actually appears in the chat rather than just the link.

Facebook and Twitter feeds can also appear in the AIM client along with news feeds from a number of AOL's web site like Engadget, Tech Crunch and more. But will the revamp result in more people using AIM over other rival messaging systems? Time will tell.

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I think I stopped using all the instant messenger venues about 5 years ago.

In this day and age of smart phones, skype, facebook and twitter....who needs instant messaging anymore?

Although I very seldom use an IM program, when I do it's Miranda in Windows and Pidgin in Linux. Small and minimalistic, is great.

An IM program that connects to everything is a must, if you're going to use one.

My favorite thing about Pidgin users is the message I get when I start a group chat that says "The following person is online, but was unable to join this conversation:"

Effective group communication isn't feature-bloat.

used trillian for a good while many years ago. if you're a minimalist and/or techie, use Miranda IM + plugins. never looked back (though i don't use video or audio).

This really isn't half bad at all for where it's at right now. You can tie in your FB and GTalk accounts and it becomes a fairly all-in-one IM app. The email and FB status update integration exists but is primitive, and the feed reader feels a bit like an after thought. But everything is very snappy and unobtrusive. They've also taken a much more natural direction with the GUI. It's not as jarringly colorful as a lot of other AOL programs, and though it isn't 100% native GUI, it feels a lot more at home in Windows 7 than, say, Skype. Or WLM. Or even Trillian.

ilhuicacoatl said,
This looks horrendously bloated. Exactly why I stopped using WLM.

Are you serious? I'm not a AIM supporter by any means, but look at that contact list! It doesn't get much more effing minimal than that.

What I don't like is how the contact list is docked with the chat window and you can't undock them. That isn't bloat, though, that's poor UI design IMO. Aside from that, though, it does look very slick.

Edited by Darrian, Nov 17 2011, 3:40am :

ilhuicacoatl said,
This looks horrendously bloated. Exactly why I stopped using WLM.

You've got to be kidding. I installed it just for a laugh to see how it ran (I'm a pretty locked down Digsby user), and I find the new AIM beta the polar opposite of bloated. It's practically barren of features at the moment (it very much has a work-in-progress feel).

There are no advertisements stamped all over the place, the majority of the old sound effects are just plain gone, and everything is lined up neatly in a very minimalist sort of way.

If this is bloated, you must only be interested in console IRC applications.

Even Live Messenger is having a hard time right now, and it used to be king in Belgium. Over here, simply everyone is switching to Facebook Chat. You always have a full history, everyone can be found under their proper name, you can easily do group conversations that can go on for weeks with everyone able to view the history, ...

I'm sorry, but nothing is going to defeat Facebook Chat, at least not in Belgium.

That aside: I just had a look at the Android App. It looks extremely nice, especially the Facebook integration! FB Messenger is okay, but if AIM does better in FB Chat I might actually switch!

xpxp2002 said,
AIM would be fine if they would just adopt common Windows controls instead of their own slow, cartoonish ones.

That's been one of the biggest issues I've had with AIM for years.. Also, iTunes.