AOL Debuts Enhanced AIM

America Online Tuesday released a new version of its hugely popular instant messaging service. The free service, dubbed AIM Triton, which AOL calls an "integrated communications hub," is more closely integrated with the Internet company's other ad-supported services.

Triton offers AOL users instant messaging, e-mail, SMS mobile text messaging, voice and video chat functions, and an online address book from Plaxo. The Plaxo service displays a snapshot of information on contacts listed on a user's AIM "buddy" list. Users also get access to the AOL Explorer browser and AOL Radio services, which include 150 AOL radio stations and 20 XM Satellite Radio stations.

While America Online pioneered instant messaging, rivals such as Yahoo! and Google have since caught up technologically with IM services of their own.

Triton's other features include tabbed IMs, designed to improve multiple, simultaneous chats, and a drag-and-drop feature for file transfers. Triton users will also get access to AOL's TotalTalk Internet phone calling service, which attempts to connect up to twenty people from a user's buddy list for a live, multi-party chat. The service is designed to allow users to join an AIM discussion already in progress. The service also features a beta version of a live video instant messaging system with an alterable picture-in-picture interface.

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