Well you would never guess what i am typing from right now. The new up to date AOL Desktop for Mac. I never thought they would make another Mac client, but they have. And this one seriously is everything it was back in the day, and just as exciting to me. There are so many new features that i cant even go over all of them if i tried. I will outline some of them though. P.S. – Thank you TUAW!
The Amazing Features!
Overall Interface – The first thing, the original Mac only interface is still here. The toolbar on the top that you can move around. The background is the desktop just like with Photoshop compared to the Windows OS. That was always my favorite thing about the Mac. AOL being like that was actually the main reason i wanted to switch to a Mac the first time i got to use one.
AIM – You will notice at start that you can now sign on with your AIM screen name. Before, AIM and AOL used to be different screen names due to the different password requirements, they wouldn’t let you sign on to AOL with an AIM account, but not vice versa. The AIM buddy list comes up right on the right side when you sign in, and its different from iChat, AIM For Windows, AIM for Mac, and everything else. Its a brand new instant messenger. You can search your buddy list, search even your friends AIM profiles! There are new mobile icons, new idle icons, new everything! By default, showing offline buddies inline is enabled and makes a mess of your buddy list. But go up to AIM in the menu bar to fix that.
The Legit Toolbar – You remember the original AOL toolbar that was so easy to use and everyone used it proudly? Well its back, and its redesigned. It looks perfect. Icons on the left outline three simple things you can do with your time within the AOL Desktop. Mail, IM, and Web. So simple, Mail brings up in a second the inline mail application that is also just as simple as it used to be! IM brings up your buddy list, and Web brings up the inline web browser that works incredibly and i will speak of that later. To the right of those simple icons are Welcome, News, Finance, Chat, Music, Television, Movies, People, Living, Sports, and Mapquest? Then there is Feedback, and Sign Out with a Search field for the web next to it.
Toolbar Update – The toolbar is completely customizable! Check it out here!
The Amazing Browser – When i popped up WordPress to write this post, i noticed it was fast as hell. So i tried a few more webpages, and wow is this thing fast. I want to see the benchmarks compared to Safari and Firefox when they appear. It goes with the Leopard interface and has perfectly designed buttons to throw on you. It now has tabs as well. (Yes, tabs. Its amazing i know. AOL has been away for so long!)
Browser Update – You don’t need to sign in to browse the web! Also, there is now a bookmarks bar just like Firefox and Safari.
Extras – Here i will just randomly throw out some small features that are actually awesome to some of us old AOL users! You will notice Chat is back! For awhile chat didn’t work, and then they removed it from the Windows and Mac versions of AOL. Its back, with a brand new AOL Chat Rooms online page that I’m going to dwell into the second this post is over to bring back old memories. You can now go up to AIM in the menu bar and search buddy profiles! Through all of the profiles, you can search for anything. There’s a really new feature. There you have it.
What I Think About All Of This Madness!
To me, this is all just madness. Bringing back so many old memories using the AOL Desktop client. I was insanely excited to write this post because I’m a huge fan of AOL. It feels good to see AOL back in style, integrating AIM these days. AIM used to be above AOL to the point where people didn’t even know what it stood for anymore. They just did instant messaging.
AOL has really brought the thunder here people. An amazingly easy to use client that will bring back more than memories when your using it. All beefed up and freshened up for the Web 2.0 era. I look forward to hearing about what everyone think of the new AOL Desktop 1.0 For Mac!
Oh, almost forgot. I wanted to just mention that we have all been waiting impatiently for about 5 years? To receive a new AIM client from AOL on the Macintosh. I know.. I know. Poor Mac users. We know that you Windows people get to have the shiny AIM client all the time but now we have this! And check this out, and you will envy out AOL client!
Here is a perfect screenshot!
Overall Update (Cons)
Getting Booted – Ok, so after using it a lot I’ve clearly noticed some first big release bugs. The first thing that doesn’t tickle my fancy so much is the fact that it loves to sign you off one time after another. it doesn’t happen constantly, but when it does it tends to do it back to back a few times. Its been years since I’ve gotten “booted” off the net! Since the dial-up days actually.
AIM Functionality – Now overall the AIM client built into this desktop client is awesome. Although, AOL cannot seem to produce a client for the Mac that is identical to the Windows version. The Windows version of all AIM clients specifically have been so much more full featured than the Mac versions. Why do you do this to us? All the others seem to produce their apps so perfectly the same on Mac as Windows! Why can’t you do this for us like everyone else AOL? When you look at the buddy list you don’t even have a clue who’s online and who is away. You can’t notice who just signed on, or off without noticing a buddy appearing or just disappearing. Another thing, is the AIM expressions. You can’t seem to get rid of them even if you select NO EXPRESSION, or ‘Reset’. The AIM functionality lacks very much.
Conclusion (Cons) – I didn’t expect there to be too many flaws in this release seeing as there were fifteen betas before the release of 1.0. They should have taken into consideration how much potential they had with releasing a new Mac application. Did they not notice that they haven’t released a Mac application in years? I sure have. I’ve been waiting for an AIM client that lives up to the Windows version for years. iChat doesn’t cut it, and either does Adium. They have their perks, but they don’t cut it.
AOL Desktop for Mac 1.5 Beta 2 is out now, and has a much improved buddy list and IM window. AOL improved the interface enough to notice, and it works out great.
Have you tried it yet? If so what do you think?