Trends come and go. Habits change. Out with the old. In with the new. What’s the next great thing? Anybody remember instant messaging? IM?
There are twenty eleven ways to instant message your friends. But I don’t have any friends who use IM to chat these days. What happened? AOL’s AIM? It’s so 1999. Apple’s iChat? Boring. Is IM a relic, an artifact from a different age that just won’t go away?
That Was Then, What About Now?
I’ve been using a trial of MacUpdate’s Desktop 5 app. It’s a useful utility that scans your Mac’s software, compares versions with the MacUpdate database, and tells you what you need to upgrade?
For whatever reason, the app said I needed to upgrade AOL’s AIM instant messaging app.
What happened? Why is it that instant messaging apps have become so 1999? AIM has a new version available but I’m hard pressed to find out what’s new or why I should upgrade. AOL’s web site offered a clue.
AIM is better than ever! Faster, lighter, and with great new features to help you get organized. Now you can use AIM to chat with your Facebook friends – chat with them in AIM whether they’re AIM users or not.
Uh oh. I see the culprit. Facebook. And Twitter. I’m using both more than ever and not bothering to use online chat—instant messaging—because it’s so interruptive. AOL’s not totally clueless, hence the added features (could have been added a couple of years ago) for Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (I thought they went out of business).
So, there you have it. That’s the reason to get AIM. There’s still instant messaging, but iChat does much of what AIM used to do except for the connection to Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
In a global society where everyone can connect to nearly anyone else at any time, we Mac users have more tools than ever to stay connected. AIM. iChat. Adium. Facebook. Twitter. And now, Apple’s soon-to-be-popular FaceTime.
Which Is Best? IM or Face to Face?
There was a time when I thought video chat using iChat and AOL’s AIM would catch on big time. It didn’t. Why not? FaceTime on the iPhone 4 and other future mobile devices might crack the ceiling of face to face communication.
Or, not. If not, why not?
AIM and iChat were keyboard and emoticon driven.
By nature, messages were brief, simple, straightforward (due to text length limitations, similar to Twitter). Emotions were displayed as keystrokes, similar to SMS text messaging on our cell phones (but at much lower cost).
FaceTime is well, face to face. Emotions. Warts. Zits. Bad hair day. Spinach between the teeth. What you’re wearing. All those extras up in FaceTime (yes, you can video mute—so what are you trying to hide?) which don’t show up in instant messaging or text, or even audio chat (like a phone call only cheaper).
I’m not predicting AIM or iChat or instant messaging will die (SMS text messaging is amazingly handy and unobtrusive and addictive). Old habits are hard to break, but in the age of Facetime and Twitter who has time to use AIM or iChat chatting? Even Skype has instant messaging but who uses Skype for that?
AIM was nice back in the day. iChat was Apple’s version of AIM which merely extended the pleasure to Mac users. But the future belongs to social networking. Everyone gets our message, but not face to face, not one to one. I hope Facetime catches on and reaches a point where we can leave video messages to friends and family, but even with nearly 4-million iPhone users already I’m not seeing the buzz for the new wave.