I Miss Adium

Yesterday I messed around with the 21st century ways to quickly call and message people. It’s a pain in the butt.

I’m gonna ramble about it now.

IN THE OLD DAYS – the year 2000 -…we had AOL IM. It was a simpler time. It was pretty much the only game in town for computer-to-computer messages. It’s what the kids used instead of FB/Twitter. In college we’d put where we were meeting for dinner as our away messages. We didn’t have cell phones…at least not yet.

Even then, some people had MSN Messenger, ICQ, and other messaging accounts. But it didn’t really matter, because software like Adium and Pidgin glued them all together. You had access to everybody who mattered through one free software package.

Today it’s a big cluster. Every time you want to message somebody quickly it comes with this added friction of figuring out HOW. Is this an email? A facebook message? A text message? An iMessage? What’s App? Skype? Each medium is now owned by a larger company that doesn’t want to play with the others.

Generally, one-to-one conversations tend to settle easily upon a single protocol, but groups get hairier because everybody has preferences. They want to use the thing they normally use. As people, family, friends, and work teams are distributed across the globe this issue has gotten bigger than it’s ever been. How do you get a bunch of people across the country talking to each other without it being a pain in the butt for everyone?

That comes up in my own group conversations. I’ve got group messages in iMessage and FB Messages. Anybody with an Android phone wants to be on Hangouts. But this guy (guilty) doesn’t want to be on Hangouts because he thinks Google+ is the devil. Why is he making this so DIFFICULT?!

What about conference calls? Can’t we all just Facetime each other? No, because Facetime is only for Apple stuff. And you can’t screen share in Facetime. What about Skype? Don’t we all have Skype? Yeah, but so-and-so says Google+ is free. Is it ‘better’? Uh, that’s subjective and debatable.

Facetime was supposed to be a game changer because it was going to be open-sourced. Anybody could work with Facetime – Android people, Windows people, didn’t matter. Except when they tried to implement it the patent trolls came out. The dream of Facetime being an open standard like Jabber/XMPP is dead. Now nobody can talk with anybody else.

Unless you all buy-in to a single platform. Get a Google+ account, or a Skype account…and probably someday soon a Facebook account.

I miss the days when communications weren’t based upon who used what. Also Adium had a pretty cool Link icon.

What I’d like is if the messages.app on iOS had the same philosophy as the old-school messaging clients. Let me put in my Google, FB, and other account credentials. Let me have all my messages in one app…preferably the stock app.1

That will never happen.


  1. Messages.app has something similar, but it’s based upon the old way of doing things. That’s why they call them legacy chat services

Pick your poison: messaging will be fragmented, expensive, or locked-in

Lots of comments like “HOW DO WE CONSOLIDATE ALL THESE MESSAGING PLATFORMS” and I bet the folks at Trillian are trying to figure out what went wrong.

But that isn’t the future.

I keep thinking that AIM could have solved this problem, but they are a legacy chat service. Does anyone really want Adium on iOS anymore? …maybe I would. I would like to see Apple update Messages on iOS with support for all the services that messages on Mac OS has (AIM, Jabber services for Facebook and Google Talk), but I don’t think it will ever happen.

The thing I don’t like about the “JUST USE SMS” argument is just because YOU have unlimited text messaging doesn’t mean that the people you message do. On my plan it costs me another $10 (…maybe $20?) for unlimited SMS messaging. It’s a ripoff and I won’t bite. The result is that I just don’t use SMS and I end up paying for when people send me texts.

I’ve thrown my weight behind iMessage because it’s on every device I have and on the devices most of my family and friends use. Twitter also gets some usage between me and friends. And for messaging Android_ers_ and everybody else I’ve been keeping Verbs around.1


  1. They should change that sound

Apple Vs Google-An In-Depth Look At Switching From An iPhone to Android-OpEd | AZ Tech Beat

Angelo Coppola looks at switching from iPhone to Android.

Some good observations here, but in these sorts of switcher articles I read over and over about how you need to figure out if you want to continue investing in Apple and iTunes. What I would like to see is how those things are done in Android world and what it would take to migrate. I want a look at the Android equivalents of what’s in the Apple ecosystem: music.app/iTunes, iBooks, iPhoto, Videos, and the rest. How do I play music on the desktop in the Android ecosystem? Google music’s web app? Amazon’s web player? You’ve already lost. May as well use Spotify or Rdio.

I haven’t yet read a comparison of ecosystems. The hardware is nice, but it feels like this part is overlooked.

Matt Gemmell on the Sparrow Acquisition

Cue predictable squawking on the internet. The same thing happens every time there’s an acquisition of a smaller, indie dev company or product by a larger company.

I’m not upset about this acquisition like some of these people are, but I also gave up using Sparrow a couple of months ago. I was a big fan of it before. I bought both Mac and iPhone versions and stopped using them months ago. I began to get the feeling that using anything other than Apple’s stock email application was like fighting the tide.

Mail.app also caught up. On the Mac, almost everything I liked about Sparrow can be replicated in Mail.app. The big thing for me was being able to archive emails, and with some rejiggering it isn’t really a big deal to do that with Gmail and Mail.app.1 Lion’s Mail.app Favorites Bar made a big leap towards quickly navigating and mining to folders with keyboard shortcuts. The only other nice thing was Sparrow’s Facebook integration to show you pictures of your contacts, which is coming to Mountain Lion this fall.

My bet is that Sparrow will be released as a free, branded Gmail app anyway (maybe without IMAP support…and with advertising).


  1. I have been trying for days to find a link I found to be really helpful to set up things with Gmail IMAP and Mail.app. It helped me do the functions I already liked in Gmail: namely archiving. Mail.app has a good archive keyboard shortcut that doesn’t work out of the box with Gmail. If I ever find that link I will post it. 

The Grid

Dennis Mangan muses on the Facebook IPO and how American industry went from building things to amusing ourselves.

I often think that the Facebook bubble will pop, but the company is doing everything it can to prevent that by tying itself to everything you want to do online. Want to play Scrabble against your friends?1 You need a Facebook account. Want to try out Spotify? You need a Facebook account.

Facebook is part advertising, part entertainment—just like most mass media. But in the long run it’s about getting you on the grid.

Their grid.

Google’s just figuring that out now.


  1. Games on Facebook shouldn’t be underestimated. I don’t think Facebook games are bad, but when the number one Facebook games developer does scummy things like rip off other games and then creates a business model where you have to spend real money to get fake money, it sketches me out. What’s even more disturbing is that it works