I'm Using AOL... And No, It's Not 1995

AOL recently announced new integration with Facebook allowing AIM users to add friends and chat inside AIM's new instant messaging client, AIM for Mac 2.0 (currently in beta). Chatting with Facbook friends while using a desktop instant messaging client is nothing new, I've been doing the same thing with Adium (another free messaging client for OS X) for almost a year. After hearing news of the integration I decided to give AIM's new client a whirl.

AOL Facebook Connect integration makes importing your Facebook friends easy.
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With one quick click of the mouse you can view your stream of Tweets and Facebook updates with AIM's Lifestream.
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Quickly link your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Delicious, Digg, and Flickr accounts to Lifestream.
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The UI of the client is very clean and seems managable at first glance, however, it does not appear to be very customizable in terms of aesthetics. I typically prefer clean and simple tools and applications, so the lack of customization doesn't bother me too much. Setting up the client with my AIM account and linking my Facebook account was pretty easy and intuivitve. AOL made great use of Facebook Connect to expedite the process. After logging into Facebook via Connect and choosing to allow the AIM client to share Facebook data, I was up and running rather quickly. After Facebook and AIM were connected I quickly realized I haven't been maintaining my friend lists in Facebook and had names repeating and had too many lists in general. I've since better organized my Facebook lists and deleted several that I wasn't checking regularly. Overall, the instant messaging client is as good as Adium IMHO, and in some ways even better.

But Hold On There's More

Included in the AIM is a social media aggregator called Lifestream. Basically Lifestream works similar to other clients like: Tweetdeck, Flock, and FriendFeed to a lesser extent. I've used various aggregators in the past to quickly check status upadates and tweets without visiting Facebook or Twitter directly. Initially I thought using a client would save time, but old habits die hard and I eventually  found myself visiting the sites more and using the client less. After experimenting (primarily with TweetDeck, I eventually found launching an application too much of a hassle. 

What I love about Lifestream, is that with a quick click of my mouse, my buddy list window rolls over (literally) and shows a stream of the latest updates and tweets. For me, it's great. I almost always have a instant messaging client open while I'm working and now I can quickly browse new posts without launching another application or logging on to Facebook or Twitter directly. This feature alone has me ready to leave my little duck friend (Adium). Lifestream likely won't completely curb my habit of checking Facebook and Twitter throughout the day, but maybe it will help a little. The client still has some glaring room for improvement, namely, the ability to separate lists to curate news and quiet noise.

Overall, AOL's AIM for Mac 2.0 beta is clean and simple. Adding and linking your Facebook friends and content is very easy and familiar thanks to Facebook Connect. I'd definitely suggest giving it a try. If you give it a whirl, let us know what you think.

Download AIM Here: http://products.aim.com/

After more than 15 years I've actually found my way back to AOL. Who knew, that after all this time, AOL would put out a product that would be current, relevant and dare I say... maybe even a little hip.


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