Swimming With Lifestream
AOL Instant Messenger, a pioneer of instant messaging, remains one of the most widely used instant messaging services, and AIM-compatible clients are available for every mobile platform.
AIM recently expanded the functionality of the AIM app for iPhone to include the converged functionality from its Lifestream Website. Though only the iPhone AIM app has the Lifestream feature at this point, any Web-enabled mobile device can take advantage of Lifestream through a Web browser.
Lifestream allows you to link a wider array of services than the desktop and iPhone TweetDeck apps do. With Lifestream, you can connect with Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Flickr, YouTube, and, of course, AIM.
Once you add your various accounts to your Lifestream, the feeds and updates display as one long list of messages. The AIM iPhone app does not offer much in the way of filtering: It has a search field at the top that you can use to narrow down which updates display, but the search is slow and it's a cumbersome way to sift through Lifestream--negating, in a way, the simplicity of merging the feeds together.
If you access Lifestream through a Web browser rather than through the AIM iPhone app, you gain some other options. You can choose to view everything or to narrow the stream down to your chosen list of Top Buddies. You can also choose to view only status updates, photos, or videos, and you can restrict the updates displayed to a particular service--for example, just AIM, Twitter, or Facebook.
Next to each of the entries in the Lifestream is a link labeled 'Comment'. Clicking on that link allows you to reply to Twitter tweets, comment on Facebook status updates, and so on. It isn't the most elegant or intuitive approach, but it does provide a single console view that you can use to simplify management of the assorted social networks and Web-based services you use.
Android and BlackBerry: Fashionably Late?
Aside from the Motorola Cliq and Palm Pre, among smartphones the iPhone holds a distinct advantage right now when it comes to apps that let you view updates from a variety of sources, in real time. In the near future, however, the situation may change.
SocialScope, which we have not yet had a chance to see firsthand, claims to deliver an integrated social media experience, including Twitter and Facebook functionality. The app will be available soon on many BlackBerry models, as well as on the iPhone and the Android-based T-Mobile G1. From initial reports, SocialScope sounds promising. You can sign up to participate in the beta at the SocialScope Website.
Considering the exploding popularity of Android--and the fact that Android is an open-source platform--Android users will probably have some social aggregator apps soon. In the meantime, users of other devices and mobile operating systems can at least update multiple networks by linking them on the back end.
You can add the Twitter app in Facebook and connect it with your Twitter profile. Once the two are linked, you can view tweets from your Twitter network within the Facebook app. In addition, by clicking a button at the top of the page labeled 'Allow Twitter to update your Facebook status', you can have your Twitter tweets duplicated as Facebook status updates, so you can post to both networks simultaneously while you're on the go.
The pace of social media adoption is forcing most of the tech industry to play catch-up. Many users and developers are still getting used to Web 2.0 and social networking concepts, and plenty of work remains to be done in delivering a simplified cross-network tool for managing all communications. Even so, the apps discussed here should give you a great start in making your online life more manageable.
Have a mobile communications app you'd like to recommend? Join the discussion in our comments section below.