Aol Instant Messenger hooks up with Facebook
This week, Aol announced that it is letting Facebook into the AIM ecosystem and allowing users on either network to chat across with users on the other. This is a major outreach for Aol, since it has historically been reticent with outside contact.
The Aol Instant Messenger version (7.2) that makes it possible is still in beta, and is available for download here. Users can click on the "Facebook Connect" button on top of the buddies list and set up the chat. Once you do that, your friends on Facebook will appear as buddies on AIM, along with their status. Facebook users can chat with AIM users using an application from the web-based Facebook interface.
Aol had last year launched Lifestream, a social aggregator that displays in one place all social networking updates. Lifestream supports updates from MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Delicious. The new AIM acquired a Lifestream plugin that lets it connect with these networks. The chat is via the Facebook Chat application programming interface (API) that Facebook made public some time ago.
The AIM upgrade appeared soon after Google released Buzz, the new networking tool for the Web as well as mobile devices, which conspicuously ignored Facebook. Though probably unrelated to the Google release, The Aol-Facebook partnership was in the works for a while, and the date of release so close to the Google release has observers interested. Tech expert Jonny Evans said that social networking has suddenly become anti-social, and that Facebook has more releases in the works to challenge Google.
Be that as it may, for now, AIM and Facebook, both leading networks in their respective categories with millions of users each, are off to a flying start. Users of both the networks will find their social arms extended farther than ever before.