AIM, AOL's Instant Messenger client, continues to add social networking features, with the latest update encroaching on some of Twitter and Facebook's stomping ground.
AIM 6.5 introduces "status" updates, whereby AIM users can broadcast a status message which displays whether they are currently online or not. While the status message builds on a previous AIM feature, the "away message", it's also clearly a nod in the direction of the micro-blogging service Twitter, or Facebook's status functionality. In addition, AIM users will also be able to update their status using a mobile phone via SMS, again a feature borrowed from Twitter.
Another new feature is AIM Tunes, a plug-in (built using AIM's open API ) which lets users stream non-DRM music stored on their own PC to other AIM users on their buddy list. AOL claim that they do this in a way which respects copyright regulation -- presumably through an Internet radio license or paying Internet radio-metered royalties.
Later this month, AOL plans to roll out even more social networking features for AIM users, including AIM Profiles, described as a "new social networking feature" where users can "share their personalities and life details, as well as thoughts entered into their Buddy Info pages." In conjunction with AIM Profiles will be a feature called AIM Dashboard (formerly AIM Today) whereby "users will be able to check out recent updates from their entire buddy networks at a glance, as well as update their profiles and status messages". The Dashboard will also offer the ability to import RSS feeds from other social networking services such as Flickr, YouTube and Digg, so that a user can create a lifestream to share with their AIM "buddies".
Both AIM Profiles and AIM Dashboard sound a lot like AOL's previous AIM-based social network, AIM Pages, so I'm not sure if it's simply a rebranding exercise or if they're actual new products.
Finally, AOL is to introduce AIM Photos, in which AIM users will be able to share photos which can be tagged with the names of their AIM "buddies" as well as be commented on. Another feature that sounds distinctly Facebook-esque.