Why Are We Still Using Instant Messaging Apps At All?

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A while back, you may have seen Adam Doud’s article “A weekend with Allo: When tech geeks unite!” where a bunch of us tech geeks used Google’s new instant messaging app Allo to keep in touch while wandering New York City. I didn’t use it though because my newest Android phones either won’t turn on (HTC One) or don’t have any non-WiFi active internet access (Moto Z), and they all have crappy cameras compared to my Nokia Lumia 1020. So if anything important was decided, someone else would email me or call me. Having to switch our tech geeks group from communicating over email (which was working great) to Allo instant messaging (which isn’t platform agnostic at all), reminded me of the old days when instant messaging was new and actually had a reason for being.

IM was necessary in the 90’s

Back in the 90’s we had the advent of “instant messaging” programs. This was necessary on the public internet since electronic mail was largely a “pull” experience meaning the software on your PC had to periodically go out and check for messages. The messages didn’t just appear right away (“push”) as they do now. With “instant messaging”, we could have a little program running on the PC at all times (or while connected to dial-up) and whenever someone sent a message, it would pop up right away. ICQ was one of the first and most popular instant messengers at the time. AOL had an instant messaging function but that was only for AOL subscribers. Eventually they opened that up to anyone for free with the AIM software and that competed a lot with ICQ. Then Microsoft made one too called MSN messenger, which actually allowed you to send messages to AOL users as well. This was awesome news since having all of these incompatible instant messaging programs was a real hassle.

Switching IM programs with every other message

I had one friend who would exasperate the annoyance of running multiple instant messaging programs by starting a conversation on AIM, then replying on MSN, then replying to my reply on ICQ. Many of my other friends dreamed of a world where you only needed one Instant Messaging program and anyone could contact you. The Internet Engineering Task Force actually tried to develop an open-source platform agnostic instant messaging protocol. They founded the Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol Working Group in 1998 which worked to create the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. This would have been great! The protocol was actually implemented by MSN Messenger, Google Chat, Jabber, AIM and Facebook Messenger at one point or another, but EVERYBODY has dropped support for the protocol (except maybe Jabber), and still none of the instant messaging programs are cross-app-compatible.

Source : http://pocketnow.com/2017/01/27/still-using-instant-messaging

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