What can I say? Many of us cut our online teeth using AOL, long before the internet went public. Remarkably, AOL is still around after all these years, plotting and scheming their way back to our hearts. The only problem with AOL is that they never left the 20th century. Let’s go Back to the Future with AOL, Pt. 1.
Then is Now
AOL was the dial up king, and may still be for all I know. Most of the country has gone to broadband internet access, either through DSL or cable. The rest of the country is too country for either.
The AOL of the this century looks mostly like the AOL of last century, with a couple of minor differences. AOL still remembers Mac users. For example, AOL Desktop.
AOL Desktop for Mac puts your Web browser, instant messaging, email and other popular features all in one place, so you can get more done with fewer clicks. Customize your AOL toolbar any way you like. Tabbed Web browsing, email and AIM keep your Mac’s screen clutter-free.
There’s more where that came from. AOL has a whole page loaded with utilities and services and applications for Mac users. Still got that AOL account lying around somewhere (click any image for a pop up, close up view)?
There’s the newly reminted AOL Desktop for Mac, which looks strikingly like the AOL Desktop for Mac, circa 1998. There’s the popular AOL ‘AIM’ Instant Messaging utility. AOL Radio and AOL Pictures.
Doesn’t that sound yummy? Yes, in a Fisher Price sorta way.
There’s also AOL Connect, AOL Service Assistant, and AOL Toolbar for Firefox. You’re ready to dump iChat, Mail, and Safari now, right? For the moment I will desist from ragging on AOL’s attempts to get back in the game with Mac users as lame or pathetic.
I’m being kind. Someone please tell me why AOL is doing this?
An AOL Gem
Fortunately, there is a gem or two in AOL’s newly conjured attempts to gain the Mac faithful. AOL Radio. It’s an elegant, simple, one-trick-pony of a utility that does one thing well. Radio.
Chose from more than 200 radio stations right from your desktop.
No time consuming, nauseating, ad blather here. AOL went straight to the point and got it right. The question is, ‘Why bother?’
AOL Radio is decent, easy to use, good sound quality, and highly reminiscent of, oh, I don’t know, ah, could it be… iTunes?
It couldn’t be much easier to get AOL Radio up and running. Download the disk image, open, drag into Applications, double click to run. Running is easier than that. Select a music category from the Souces column, then double click on the stations.
Wow! You thought radio music from iTunes was good? Check it out. There’s an All Madonna station, an All Michael Jackson station, Japanese Pop station, and my favorite, the Love Stinks station.
What could be easier. Start and stop the music from the giant button in the upper left corner, adjust the sound volume with the slider, select a Station and right click to set a preset, just like in your car. Double click the station to play.
There’s even a Hawaiian station. Who knew that AOL was so hip, contemporary, and culturally diverse (in a 1998 Fisher Price sorta way)?
AOL Radio’s preferences could not be much simpler, keeping with the digital motif of less is more.
Note the Presets. Those are set by selecting a station and right-clicking to add to the preset list. Only five presets are available. Other preferences let you set the Radio’s display colors (no Fisher Price scheme).
That’s the big question, but AOL is still an advertising behemoth with millions of customers, probably many of those using Macs. AOL Radio has advertising in a somewhat obtrusive window pane that pops out and won’t go away.
The pane displays ads. University of Phoenix, XM Radio (funny, radio advertising on radio on a computer screen), probably others.
It’s good to see that AOL remembers Mac users with updates to the latest services, tools, utilities. Coming up next, AOL Pictures and AOL Desktop.