AIM by AOL
Senior Editor, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: The Best Instant Messaging Apps. Additional details may be found in the original article.
As the only official AOL Instant Messaging application available for the iPhone and iPod touch, AIM (Free) has benefitted not only from official support from its parent company but also from prominent positioning in the App Store. The application uses a bottom-tabbed interface to let users flip between buddy list, favorites, info, and active IM views. The buddy list lets users choose between online, general buddies, recent buddies, or offline buddies, each displayed with the user’s avatar, if available. Tapping on the blue arrow to the right of each buddy allows the user to choose which group the buddy should belong to, send an IM, or add the buddy to favorites.
Individual chat sessions appear in a single window, with a colored bar containing the buddy’s name, the time stamp of the message, and their avatar to the left; multiple consecutive messages from the same buddy appear underneath without repeating the colored bar. Users can swipe back and forth to move between active messaging sessions. Unfortunately, neither linked text nor URLs appear as links in AIM, limiting its use in web-intensive chat sessions. Likewise, users chatting using a traditional, desktop-based program cannot send images through to iPhone or iPod touch users. A menu in the Settings app lets a user set his or her screenname and password and toggle the classic icons, sign-off on exit, and sounds on and off.
Despite the advantages of having official AOL support, AIM falls short of several competing apps with its inability to send images or audio snippets, and its similar inability to accept links and/or images. The addition of any of those features would help improve this app, which despite its official status, is not the best AIM client available for the iPhone and iPod touch. It is still a good option, however, and worthy of our general recommendation. iLounge Rating: B.