AIM Opens Up For Social Networking

    June 12, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Looking to create a virtual world on your website? AOL has extended its Open AIM initiative to include support for AIM Bots, location-based services, and PC-to-PC voice calling. The update also includes support for developers working on the Mac OS X, Linux, and Pocket PC platforms or with Java.

AIM Opens Up For Social Networking
Open AIM At Your Social Network

The Open AIM initiative launched in March as a branding tool for AOL that allows companies, communities and independent developers to build customized plugins, communications clients and mash-ups that access AOL’s IM network.

The AOL team says the latest installment is especially geared toward social networks, online gaming, and music. It enables webmasters to set up social environments like Doppleganger’s recently launched The Lounge featuring the Pussycat Dolls, a virtual night club, or like WebEx Communication’s online video conferencing.

The AIM Bots work as artificial buddies that quickly retrieve information via IM. For example, the Wall Street Journal Online has a bot that allows users to type in a ticker symbol as a command for the bot to bring back stock information.

The AOL team said the same functionality can be used to create weather alerts, retrieve movie information, et cetera. The bots have also been integrated into SMS for mobile text messaging. AIM Bot sample code has been added to the updated Open AIM SDK and scripting programs are available to help developers get started.

In addition, AIM Bots can support audio calls, file transfers and picture sharing. For example, an AIM Bot could be created to let users send pictures or podcasts to their blogs. They respond automatically to IMs they receive and can maintain IM conversations with multiple users To prevent IM spam, AIM Bots cannot initiate IMs without permission.

There is a limit of 10,000 IMs per day, and 100,000 per month. But Alan Keister, Senior Director of Engineering, Instant Messaging and Social Networking Products, says that the limit can be increased through an arrangement with AOL.

The update also includes support for locations services, like the ability to take your physical location and send it to your buddies so they know where to find you. “You can find out when your buddies are near you or when your buddies are at a favorite hangout,” said AIM Chief Architect Justin Uberti.

Uberti told WebProNews that the AIM team is working on a way to set location from mobile devices in the future. He also gave security assurances that only people on your buddy list can see the location and that the information stored on AOL’s servers does not link locations with users.

“We’re very concerned about privacy,” said Keister. We’re protecting the member data and privacy information very strictly. There is an ability to save favorite locations on our server if the user wishes, but there is no time stamp on that.”

AIM Location services are part of the Open AIM Software Development Kit (SDK). The new application program interfaces (APIs) – with sample code in both C++ and Java – have been added to the SDK to let developers build location services into clients, plugins and, in the coming weeks, Web sites.

The APIs are available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Pocket PC. They support several languages, including C++, C#, Visual Basic in Java. It also includes video and audio applications. Previously there was an API for that, but AOL didn’t enclose the media components, said Uberti.


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