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The AIM Network: AIM6, AIMPages, Buddy Feeds

I love launches.  This week, we're launching AIM 6 along with a major upgrade to the AIMPages beta.  And they work together!

The new AIM is a big improvement; I've been running the various betas over the past many months and they've been both rising in quality and slimming down in footprint.  And the UI is finally reasonable: I can now once again edit my buddy list right there in the main window.  And buddies now have a little (i) icon that tells you when your buddy has published something -- anywhere.  Like blog entries!  Profile updates!  Or, if they've set things up, new Flickr photos, Diggs, Myspace or Blogger or Xanga updates, or any custom Atom or RSS feeds you care to add.

There are some problems:  It keeps telling me about their away message status, and I don't really care that Kevin Lawver is away at lunch.  And I see that Kevin posted a photo but there's no thumbnail in the feed...  but this is a first release, we can fix these nits.  (The feed data is available at http://buddyfeed.oscar.aol.com/rss-push/aol:buddy_feed?request=user&sn=<screenname>, and as an AIMPage module named "What's New" which I demoed at Widgets Live last week.)

There's a good review of all of this on GigaOM by Liz Gannes.

The only downside of all this is that I'm mostly on a Mac these days, and there's no Mac AIM 6 client right now.  On the other hand, Adium plus a feed reader works pretty well too.

AIMPages has also added AIM Pages Buddies.  I don't think this is the best name, but the concept is good.  It's two way, meaning that both people have to opt in to it.  And by default your AIM Pages Buddies are shown on your profile (so you really don't want your whole Buddy List showing up there).  The invitation mechanism is easy:  When you start to add, the system sends an IM to the buddy asking if they agree.  A lot better than email, if they're online.  If not, they'll get reminded with a little status link at the top of their AIM Page: "Buddy Requests (42)".

Aside:  By default, for newly created profiles, only your AIM Pages Buddies can post comments on your profile.  You can change this in the settings to open it up if you want to.  On the other hand, it's also a way to get more buddy requests.

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