iChat is the default chatting software for the Mac and is preinstalled on the Mac. Although it certainly isn’t the best or most powerful instant messaging tool for the Mac, it is usable and overall I found it to be okay. The software supports video chatting with the Mac’s preinstalled webcam and microphone, and runs pretty smoothly with the Mac’s interface. I found some minor issues with the software, but overall I was impressed with Apple’s choice of software.
There were a couple of problems with iChat, however. The biggest problem is support for different instant messaging services. iChat only supports Google Talk, MobileMe, AIM, and Jabber. Hopefully more will be supported in the future, as programs such as Yahho! Messenger and MSN messenger don’t work with iChat. Additionally, iChat can only log in to one instant messaging account at a time, whereas other software such as Pidgin can log in to multiple account at the same time, and has better chat account support.
iChat does support some very useful features, however. According to Apple, the software supports video chatting with up to three people at the same time, but this probably only works if all the other people are using iChat, as I was unable to video chat with friends on my Gmail account through iChat. According to Apple, iChat also supports desktop sharing and sharing Keynotes with other people. iChat supports parental controls, which allows parents to restrict their children’s chatting and monitor who they are chatting with.
iChat also supports the following features:
- Tabbed chats (chat with multiple people at the same time)
- Multiple logins (correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this means “multiple logins at the same time, rather that it supports multiple chatting platforms)
- Invisible option (so that other people who are logged on can’t see you, but you can still chat with them)
- File Manager (to transfer files between computers)
- A well-designed user interface (probably the best I’ve ever seen)
For me, iChat certainly has enough functionality to get by. I would only like to see support for more chatting systems and multiple logins. I would especially like to see support for Facebook Chat, as tons of people use it. I am highly impressed with the user interface, and the graphical design is very nice. Video chatting supposedly works, although other chatters probably have to be using iChat as well.
Overall, I am pretty impressed by Apple’s default chatting software. However, there are a couple of better alternatives out there that one can try out. I would personally recommend Adium, which is very good except for the annoying sounds it makes every time a chat pops up (to my annoyance, I tried and failed for 30 minutes to disable chat notifications to no avail, and finally had to uninstall the software and revert back to iChat).
Please let us know if you find any better alternatives to iChat, as we would love to review them.
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Charles is the founder and administrator of iTracki.com. After years of following and keeping up with Apple products, he founded this website and worked with others to bring the best news, reviews, tutorials, and editorials straight to you.