AOL Releases Second AIM 'Triton' Beta

The second installment of Triton, the next generation of AOL Instant Messenger, has left AOL's beta sandbox.

As first reported by BetaNews, Triton is a replacement for the existing AIM 5.9 series client that has been rewritten from the ground up. Triton adopts an entirely new user interface that includes tabbed messaging corralled within a single window AOL has dubbed "IM Catcher".

The client will also catch IM conversations with a new session based logging capability called IM History. Beta 2, build 0.2.11, introduces that ability to clear IM History.

Other significant interface elements include Triton's "Quicknote" dialog that replaces the initial IM window, allowing users to choose what communication method they will use to contact a buddy. Quicknote also provides a snapshot of user information.

Through Quicknote, users can decide whether to link up with buddies by sending PC to PC instant messages, send e-mail through the AIM Mail service, send SMS text messages, or contact their buddy using AOL's Internet Phone Service when that feature becomes available in later builds.

Users can click and drag buddies to participate in multi-party conversations and more easily locate contacts with "Type down" searching in AIM's Buddy List. Triton will also sync up with address book contacts in some popular e-mail applications.

AOL would not comment on the specifics of its planned synchronization tools, but has already added presence to Microsoft Outlook in a beta release of AIM Sync by Intellisync. For the time being, AOL will provide a host-based address book.

Triton introduces a plug-in architecture for third party developers. Officially sanctioned plug-ins will be hosted by AOL at a developer's community Web site. AIM users can browse AOL portal Web sites using AOL Explorer, a Web browser that replaces the faceless AIM Today window. AOL Explorer is a mandatory installation that automatically runs AOL anti-spyware software as a service and may be set as the default Windows browser.

In Beta 2, AOL has further tweaked the Triton interface by adding a thumbnail view for all Buddy list contacts, as well as settings to customize the layout of advertisements including size and location. Other new features are live video and 3-D rendering. The release has expanded support to the Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 and Windows ME operating systems.

The AIM Triton Beta 2 client may be downloaded via FileForum.

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