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AOL Is Cutting Off Third-Party App Access To AIM (9to5mac.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: AOL announced today that it is starting to cut off third-party app access to its Instant Messenger service. As first noticed by ArsTechnica, AOL began notifying users of at least one third-party app, Adium, that it would become obsolete starting on March 28th. At this point, it's unclear whether or not all third-party applications will be rendered useless come March 28th, but the message presented to Adium users seemed to strongly imply that: "Hello. Effective 3/28, we will no longer support connections to the AIM network via this method. If you wish to use the free consumer AIM product, we invite you to visit http://www.aim.com/ for more information." What this likely means is that AOL is shutting down the OSCAR chat protocol that is used to handle AIM messages. The service will, however, continue to be available via AOL's own chat app that is supported on macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
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AOL Is Cutting Off Third-Party App Access To AIM

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  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @09:03AM (#53952609)

    I can't remember the last time I saw anyone use AOL much less AIM. Got to be over a decade ago...

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @09:10AM (#53952649) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but this is the last straw, and the majority of those left are taking the opportunity to transition to either ICQ or Google Hangouts.
      • I haven't used ICQ in about as long as i haven't used AIM personally. IRC still gets rare usage, but discord is my main method for chatting with others anymore.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          For me it's e-mail, standard text message, or nothing. I'm not interested in the chat application du jour, that's for young people who haven't experienced firsthand the joy of multiple application switches and losing years of chat history and contacts.
      • by Curtman ( 556920 ) *

        the majority of those left are taking the opportunity to transition to either ICQ or Google Hangouts.

        ICQ is only an alternative client to connect to the AIM network these days, and AOL owns it completely. Why would switching to ICQ be helpful to anyone?

        • (Whoosh)

          TBH I had no idea ICQ was still even running in any form when I wrote the comment. The comment was supposed to be a joke at AOL and Google's expense (Hangouts is barely 5 years old and has been deprecated for more than a year.)

          • Hangouts hasn't been deprecated. Its API has been deprecated. The difference between AIM and Hangouts, besides the obvious feature disparity, is that everyone who uses gmail (seemingly 1/2 the planet) can and often do use Hangouts. I prefer Whatsapp but Hangouts is fine by me. It's automatically installed when I add my gmail account to a phone or tablet.
            • I don't know what Google are saying officially, but in practice Hangouts is deprecated - that is, Google are trying to push people towards alternative products - Allo, Duo, and Messages.

              Which is a shame, I rather like it and like the (current) concept of it being a one stop shop for SMS messages, IMs, and transcribed voicemails.

              • In practice, they also tried to kill their Google Voice app, when they rolled the functionality into Hangouts...and now they have a new Google Voice web site and app.

                I'm sticking with Hangouts until I have to switch.

        • You are behind the times, ICQ and AIM were merged and then split again and ICQ was sold off.

        • by allo ( 1728082 )

          AOL sold ICQ.

          • by Curtman ( 556920 ) *
            Yes, others mentioned that... I haven't used it since my 5 digit UIN was stolen from me. Back when they only allowed 8 character passwords, with no options whatsoever for recovery. I hate you Mirabilis ICQ.
            • by allo ( 1728082 )

              That's sad.
              And currently they seem to allow password change only via web ui, which flags your account for suspicious activity is unlucky and then you need to add a mobile number.

      • by sremick ( 91371 )

        I still use ICQ with my dad. It's the only IM I'll ever manage to get him to use, as he's the sort to never even get on Facebook or make a Google account. It's kind of nostalgic and I don't mind, and I still use my original sub-500K UIN.

        Hangouts on the other hand is THE primary IM and video-chat tool used among my friends and family. I don't get all the hate...it works great, better than Skype and all the numerous half-baked, feature-limited "new" chat options Google has come out with since. We particularly

        • I like Hangouts too.

          The initial concerns with Hangouts were that it was tied to Google Plus, that Google Plus had that stupid real names policy, and that it was a replacement for Google Chat, which was phased out so nobody could use it any more. Once the Google Plus related issues were fixed, there wasn't really a reason to want to use Google Chat over Hangouts, so it became quite a good system.

          The major issue with Hangouts is that Google doesn't want it any more, so we're being pushed to use alternati

        • I don't login to my icq account anymore because I kinda stopped talking to other people about two years ago, but still remember my uin by heart :-)

      • Fake news is the last straw? Third party IM clients will still be able to access AIM service. The only people impacted are those using clients that are dead projects. AOL notified third party clients about this change months ago. This is a non story with a ridiculous headline.

    • by UPi ( 137083 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @09:23AM (#53952723) Homepage

      That was my initial reaction too.

      Similar story: yahoo did the same thing with the yahoo messenger protocol last September. Up until then I was using pidgin to chat on yahoo. After September I just quit using yahoo. So long and thanks for all the fish.

      • After September I just quit using yahoo.

        Yahoo effectively killed off my chat program back in (roughly) 2000, via frequent changes to the protocol. After chasing the changes a few times, I just gave up and stopped using Yahoo entirely.

        When a company changes a stable service, or starts blocking access to it, it's usually not a good sign for the longevity of the service.

        • by Kvasio ( 127200 )

          so twitter is doomed, after it has blocked API access to many apps and for alternative clients .... some 5 or 6 years ago?

    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      I can't remember the last time I saw anyone use AOL much less AIM. Got to be over a decade ago...

      Crazy right? I though they only existed in old times when everyone had one of those crappy CD somewhere in their CD box.

    • Yes, I had no idea it had even the smallest relevance in today's world!
    • I don't even remember the last time I fired up Trillian, which let me connect to AIM, ICQ, Yahoo... I forget what else. Never even installed it on my current box, which I've already had like 4 years.
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      So AOL is still alive?

    • Every so often I run across someone who still has an aol email address. It is usually someone who got that email address when they were in high school or college and sees no reason to change it.
    • by Kvasio ( 127200 )

      I think I still have their 3.5" fd somewhere ... and I live a few thsd miles from the US.

    • It is still widely used in the financial world. I don't know why, probably just some historical leftover. I wonder how this will affect users in the US from this industry. They all use proxies or other tools with AIM to fulfill regulatory requirements about recording communications.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's either AD revenue, or government monitoring behind this one. There's no reason to not support a third party client otherwise. Especially when the client already exists. (Time and money to change the protocol implementation for what? Some cat and mouse game that the third party will win given enough time?)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just so you know, "ad" is an abbreviation of "advertisement", not an acronym. There's no need to capitalise it, unless you feel the need to shout it for some reason.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )

      There's no reason to not support a third party client otherwise.

      Supporting 3rd party clients still costs money for hardware and administration. That's a reason. Perhaps AOL just don't see the point of that expense any more.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        It could be a further step to see if, after cutting off the API, how much usage it really has left. If it turns out that if usage drops 90% then they'll probably just pull the plug entirely.
    • This is purely speculative on my part but I would guess it's the latter. Yahoo killed access for 3rd party chat applications some time ago.


    • Re:Ads. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @10:06AM (#53952959)

      This is going to kill AIM. Yes, it takes expense to support third party items, but being open gets more people using the service.

      There have been a shitload of closed chat systems, Anyone remember "Ding!" in the 1990s? There were many "Internet phone" companies also offering chat mechanisms as well. The reason why they are not around is because never were open enough to attract third party developers.

      Plus, who uses AIM these days? If I need to message someone, it will either be SMS/MMS, FB Messenger, Signal, iMessage, or even Skype. AIM isn't worth the time in keeping a client open for it.

      • Plus, who uses AIM these days?

        No idea on the number of AIM users but I was pretty shocked to have just learned that 11 million monthly users of ICQ still exist... According to: https://corp.mail.ru/en/compan... [corp.mail.ru]

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        SMS/MMS, FB Messenger, Signal, iMessage, or even Skype.

        all of which are thoroughly NSL'd to hell and back.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        This is going to kill AIM. Yes, it takes expense to support third party items, but being open gets more people using the service.

        I wish I could agree. However, what I've seen in the last couple of years has been nearly the entire userbase of instant messengers moving from 'open' networks like AIM, Jabber, IRC, or so forth, and instead to semi-closed (skype) or entirely-closed (Discord, Facebook) protocols instead. Very disappointing and depressing for those of us who use (and like) applications like Pidgin FAR more than any proprietary protocol application I've ever tried.

  • What year? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @09:12AM (#53952661) Journal

    AOL began notifying users of at least one third-party app, Adium, that it would become obsolete starting on March 28th.

    It might've been more efficient to personally notify the last 6 users.

  • by borcharc ( 56372 ) * on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @09:17AM (#53952701)

    I still have a handful of friends who haven't transitioned to xmpp or another system in pidgin.

  • by v1 ( 525388 )

    Apple's iChat uses (used?) OSCAR/AIM for chat and initiating video conferencing. I'm not sure if that's still the case, as they've been through several major changes more recently. (to messages and facetime apps)

    Anyone have more information on this?

  • Don't get me wrong, I used it quite a lot a decade ago. But anymore these days, it was basically only still on my system because it's pretty trivial to paste the username and password into Pidgin.

    I guess Pidgin will just be for my ever-dwindling list of XMPP services, now.

  • I put Adium in the Dock of all the Macs that I tend to at work. I will not remove Adium because it supports other protocols like XMPP. I will not install a separate AIM app because in removing OSCAR, AOL is admitting that AIM is a futile exercise.
  • This is bound to upset AIM's remaining users: both of them.
  • No more reason for me to use AOL. Please come and take all your floppy disks back.

  • Hello. Effective 3/28, we will no longer support connections to the AIM network via this method. If you wish to use the free consumer AIM product, we invite you to visit http://www.aim.com/ [aim.com] for more information.

    That is, all they are announcing is that they are discontinuing some protocol, not that they are discontinuing support for all third party clients.

    The headline is typical of the fake news outrage machine: "Some people in group X are affected by Y" turns into "People in group X are affected by Y", whi

  • Know then (Score:4, Interesting)

    by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @12:21PM (#53953971) Journal
    A beginning is a very delicate time. Know then, that is is the year 1997. The known universe is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Bill Gates, my father. In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is code. The code extends life. The code expands consciousness. The code is vital to the internet. The Microsoft Corporation and its engineers, who the code has mutated over 22 years, use the code, which gives them the ability to dominate the market place. That is, rule the mindshare without moving. Because the Microsoft Corporation controls the default operating system, they are the highest power in the Universe. The Code also plays a very secret role in the Open Source community, of which I am a part. The open source community has been interfering with the proprietary code, and the corporations producing it thereof, of the great Internet of the Universe, cleverly replacing proprietary code with open source to form the FOSS, a super being. They plan to control this super being and use its powers for their own purposes. The coding plan has been carried out in a strict manner since the GNU project in 1984. The goal of the super being is in sight. But now, so close to the prize, a crazy student, Linus, the bound debtor of the University of Helsinki, who has been ordered to bear only proprietary code, has given birth to a kernal. Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you. The code exists all over the entire Internet. Hidden away within the rocks of this vast network are a people known as the Free Software Foundation, who have long held a prophecy that a man would come, a messiah, who would lead them to true freedom. The URL is https://www.fsf.org/ [fsf.org], also known as FSF.
  • While mainstream consumers have long since moved on from AIM commodities traders still rely on it as their primary IM client between brokers. And since trading falls under the purview of the Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) [wikipedia.org] legislation must be recorded. [forbes.com] Although AIM has a conversation history feature it cannot be centrally administrated. This has led to a third party IM recording industry. [globalrelay.com] If this change cuts off these third parties access to the server then traders will not be allowed to use AIM and there will be a sc
    • Lots of options with XMPP. If someone in the industry can tie two pieces of string together, they'll make some money on it.

      • There have been no clear successors despite tens if not hundreds of attempts by some of the biggest players. Google and Microsoft have been pushing their offerings hard and they're not bad offerings. But the traders and brokers are stubborn and steadfast. They HATE change (but love volatility). It will literally take something like shutting down their go to tool for them to choose a new one. XMPP (AKA jabberd) was the clear choice early on but it still hasn't been adopted widely and suffers from the Not Inv
  • by alexo ( 9335 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @02:53PM (#53955631) Journal

    AOL is doing no such thing. The whole thing is false.

    Here are the facts that I know:

    On Sept. 21st, the Tech Director of Product Management and Support of the AIM Platform reached out via the Pidgin mailing list, advising that there will be a breaking change in the way AIM handles client logins. This was done specifically to ensure a smooth transition to the new login method. He then worked with Pidgin developers to provide an alternative.

    Pidgin 2.12, due to be released in a week or so, will support the new authentication method. Since Adium uses the same communication library, I believe it will also support it. I do not know if Trillian, Miranda and other other 3rd-party clients will make the change.

    What is happening is that AOL is alerting its users that the "old" login method will be obsoleted in a month and that they should either upgrade their client or switch to another one in order to keep using the service.

    <rant> I remember the times when /. was more about facts and informed discussion than clickbait and knee-jerk tirades. Damn, I feel old. </rant>

  • AIM still useful (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @04:29PM (#53956743)

    The notification have also been coming in on Pidgin. I heard someone say that AOL is changing he authenitication mechanism (not at all improbable), and that Pidgin will update the ode to handle the new mechanism . I am guessing they are upgrading to stronger encryption mechanisms. So if this is true Pidgin will keep on working with the new Pidgin release.

    AIM and Pidgin is still useful, still very reliable way to communicate and still is nice to be able to use a native client on the desktop rather than have to use a web client.

    Hopefully pidgin will include OTR by defualt soon which would provide end to end encyrption on by default, because things have been a little stagnant lately

  • Back in the day (2014), this was mandatory geek reading:

    David Auerbach: Chat Wars [nplusonemag.com]

  • I thought that AOL died when they stopped selling desktops that read floppy disks? Now I feel like I've been in the woods past 19 years.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus