The AIM network. If you've signed up for a .Mac address (the paid kind or the free kind described below) or a free AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) account, you can chat with anyone in the 150-million-member AOL Instant Messenger network.
21.2. Three Chat Networks
iChat lets you reach out to chat partners on three different networks:
• The AIM network. If you've signed up for a .Mac address (the paid kind or the free
kind described below) or a free AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) account, you can
chat with anyone in the 150-million-member AOL Instant Messenger network.
• The Jabber network. Jabber is another chat network, whose key virtue is itsopen-
source origins. In other words, it wasn't masterminded by some corporate media
behemoth; it's an all-volunteer effort, joined by thousands of programmers all over
the world. There's no one Jabber chat program (like AOL Instant Messenger).
There are dozens, available for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Unix, Palm and
PocketPC organizers, and so on. All of them can chat with each other across the
Internet in one glorious frenzy of typing.
And now there's one more program that can join the party: iChat.
• Google Talk. Evidently, Google felt that there just weren't enough different chat
programs, because it released its own chat program in 2005.
Behind the scenes, it uses the Jabber network, so Google Talk doesn't really count
as a different network. (Hence the headline.) But it does mean that you can use
iChat to converse with all those Google Talkers, too.
• Your own local network. Thanks to the Bonjour network-recognition technology
(which Apple called Rendezvous before the Attack of the Trademark Lawyers),
you can communicate with other Macs on your own office network without
signing up for anything at all—and without being online. This is a terrific feature
when you're sitting around a conference table, idly chatting with colleagues using
your wireless laptop (and the boss thinks you're taking notes).
Each network generally has its own separate Buddy List window and its own chat
window, but you can consolidate all of your various chats into a single window (Section
You log into each network separately using the iChat Accounts submenu, butyou can
be logged into all of them at once. This is a great option if your friends are spread out
among different chat networks.
Note: If you're on AOL's AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service, why would you want to
use iChat instead of AOL's own AIM program? Easy: Because iChat is a nice, cleanly
designed program that's free of advertisements, chatbots, and clunky interface elements.
Otherwise, however, chatting and videoconferencing works identically on all three
networks. Keep that in mind as you read the following pages.