America Online, as part of an overhaul of its AOL Instant Messenger software, released a new trial version that adds new communications tools.
Dubbed AIM Triton, the software lets people manage all their contact info from within the IM window, as well as place calls to any phone, send text messages to cell phones, watch Internet TV and listen to online radio.
"Integrated communications is the big idea," said Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AIM and ICQ for America Online.
While AIM Triton won't be officially launched until fall, you can try an early version by downloading the beta-test release at beta.aol.com.
AIM users will immediately notice a new interface that groups IM chats, voice calls, video messages, photos, file transfers and games under a row of tabs in the main window. A new, separate "QuickNote" window makes it easy to switch between IM, e-mail and phone text messages when trying to reach buddies.
Longtime users who still employ AIM only to send text notes back and forth to other computer users may feel they are at the controls of a spaceship by the time they've clicked through the various links to Web search, online radio and AOL TV. But multitasking types can feel right at home with features that let them, say, run a search while chatting with friends, then pass along any info they find.
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