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.
Some answers on what are likely to be FAQs:
- By default, your AIM buddies are displayed in the "most popular" order typically used in Gmail and Google Talk. To view them in alphabetical order (and enable the scrollbar), click on "Options" at the bottom of the contact list on the left side and choose "Top 250".
- You can also adjust the size of your contact list by clicking on "Options" and selecting between "Tiny", "Small", "Medium", and "Large".
- AIM users that are away or idle show up as yellow dots. The away message, if present, is displayed in the contact list.
- Your Gmail status message carries over to AIM, and vice versa.
- You can see AIM users' buddy icons, but setting your Gmail user avatar does not currently affect your own AIM icon.
- If you log into Gmail using HTTPS (as I mentioned here), your AIM session will be secured as well.
- This integration is not XMPP Federation. This was a contractual limitation. On the plus side, this means Gmail users don't need to manually add all their AIM friends to their Gmail contact list.
- The AIM implementation was developed on top of the Open AIM libraries. (It's a little weird knowing that the code my team wrote at AOL is now running in Google datacenters.)