Adium 1.3 Provides Facebook Chat, Many Bug Fixes
Adium, an open-source instant-messaging client for OS X, has released its latest version (1.3). Adium, like the Pidgin IM client, makes it possible to use a single IM program, rather than run multiple clients simultaneously for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and several other networks. Adium's latest release includes support for the Facebook IM client, providing desktop access to this otherwise Web-only communications channel.
Adium, which is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), has been around for several years, and is already quite popular among Macintosh users. It not only handles multiple protocols, but allows you to group multiple IM buddies as the same person. So if "John" on AIM and "JohnS" on MSN are really the same person, you can tell Adium to treat them as such. This allows you to largely ignore the differences between IM networks, thinking about people as people, rather than separate logins and protocols.
This version adds a number of new features, in addition to access to Facebook chat. It also adds a search field to the main window, allowing you to find a particular buddy even when you have a very large number of IM contacts. (And let me tell you, when you add Facebook chat to the mix, your buddy list might suddenly double in length.) The contact manager has been revamped as well, not only providing a new way of managing your contacts, but also integration with Apple's address book application.
As usual, the latest release also fixes a variety of communication bugs with various protocols, from file-transfer issues to login problems. Adium's authors try hard to stay on top of the latest changes (both documented and not) in various protocols, and seem to do a good job of keeping us all connected. A full list of changes is available at the Adium Web site.
Adium is not only a full-featured IM client on its own, but an open platform into which users may add one or more third-party plugins (known as "xtras"). A large number of plugins are available from the Adium site, and can be easily downloaded and integrated into the program. Some of the most popular plugins display the music currently being played in iTunes,
The only items missing from Adium's otherwise excellent list of features are support for the Skype IM protocol, and for the audio/video chat. There is a third-party plugin for the Skype protocol, but it requires that Skype be running at the same time as Adium, removing much of the potential benefit.