An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to

December 4, 2007

Chat with Your AIM Buddies in Gmail

Another day, another new Gmail feature. As previously posted, Gmail will let you chat with your AIM contacts. AIM is the most popular instant messaging client in the US, with more than 53 million US users last year. The feature is currently rolled out to Gmail 2.0 accounts and some people already have it.

Gmail Help clarifies that Google doesn't use anything extraordinary, only a public API. "AIM in Gmail is not a Google Talk and AIM federation; it's the ability to sign in to your AIM messaging account from Gmail. Gmail uses Open AIM to provide this feature." That's why you still need an AIM account and you'll have to periodically enter the credentials. "We ask for your password when you first sign in, and we forward it to AOL's OpenAuth service. Once AOL validates your log-in information, they send a token we can use to sign in to AIM on your behalf. We then promptly forget your password. The token is only valid when used by Google, can only be used to sign in to AIM, and expires after a while."

The feature seems to be available in Gmail, but not in Google Talk's gadget or desktop app, which makes it look like an improvisation. In 2005, Google and AOL agreed to enable "Google Talk and AIM instant messaging users to communicate with each other, provided certain conditions are met". Apparently, the conditions have not been met and the interoperability of IM networks is still a distant dream.

{ via Zorgloob }

Update: Justin Uberti, who stopped working on AIM to become a Googler, writes:
As a longtime resident of the AIM universe, I never thought that I would give up my favorite AIM Lite for a web client. But the AIM integration in Gmail is that good. It's fast, easy to set up and use, and works on any computer. Best of all, it saves your IM sessions in Gmail, which makes it easy to remember a conversation from months ago. Bottom line: if you use Gmail and use AIM, you'll probably really enjoy the combined experience.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.