The battle has long been fought between the two AOL-dominated rivals: AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ. Both have very attractive and useful interfaces and features.Today, the battle ends; a winner will emerge.
Let us take a gander into AIM to see what it has to offer. AIM’s initial window allows the userto change the font, size, style, color and background color of the Instant Message. Various “smiley” faces and a direct link where users can share images and other files are alsofeatured. This is probably most similar to Internet Relay Chat’s (IRC’s) Direct Client Connection. This feature, however, is only available in the latest beta version. AIM also has four buttons along the bottom of the window: Warn, Info, Add Buddy (to your buddy list), and Talk (which allows you to actually use your microphone to talk over AIM, although the reception is not crystal-clear). While AIM allows you to search its database for other users for whom you man not know screen names, it seldom proves itself efficient. In the years that I have used AIM, not once have I been successful. That is probably the only flaw I have found using this software.
ICQ (derived from I-seek-you…get it??) has still remained quite popular among the teenage community despite being purchased by AOL. ICQ also has a few features that AIM does not share. Among these many features is a quite troublesome little “floater” that is at the front of every window you open in other applications, allowing you to click at any time to return to ICQ; this is a very annoying and useless feature in my opinion, especially if you use Action Utilities’ GoMac. To the right of every user on your list is a scrolling menu that has a plethora of functions. One is the “receive” function which receives any messages from that user that have been sent (so if you don’t want to hear from that user, well, you don’t have to). Also in the list is a message and a chat function which sends a message to that user or opens a chat room with him or her, respectively. It also has a history feature which stores all messages from that user for later reference.
“Who cares?” you may ask. Well, I myself tend to prefer a program that is simple and popular. I am also not the only one that looks for features in programs such as these. In my latest random poll, out of 10 people I asked regarding their choice of online software, 5 said AIM only, 2 used both, and 3 didn’t use online software.
Why is it that practically no one uses ICQ only for online, real time communication? The answer is quite simple: ICQ is a very complex and powerful program. However, it lacks simplicity. While searching for ICQ numbers is easy, many names appear resulting from a search. Also, how many of you have gotten an ICQ number from a friend at school or work, written it down, and taken it home to add to your list? A sequence of numbers makes everyone uniform; a screen name by which to find someone is much easier. Newcomers to the whole concept of the internet are going to be confused and intimidated by numbers and extraneous functions.
Best Messenger app
The winner, you guessed it, is AOL’s Instant Messenger by a long shot. AIM has the simplicity and power that users new and old can use and appreciate. AIM continues to grow in functions and uses while ICQ has remained relatively stagnant. AIM remains the undisputed champion in the battle for a winning messaging tool for the Macintosh computer.