I just had my first “iChat experience”. I downloaded iChat AV the other day, but I a) don’t have an AIM or .Mac account and b) didn’t know anyone else who did either.
Ian Wyatt sent out a note tonight wanting to test it and mentioning his .mac account. So, I went ahead and signed up for an account again. No, I’m not paying (although you do get a 60-day free trial), it was just to get an account to work with iChat (it’s firstname.lastname@example.org).
We typed a bit, then I found out how to press the “talk” button. Very, very cool. Ian has an iBook and I have a flat-panel iMac, and we were both just using the built-in microphone. Excellent audio quality. If both people talked, you heard a bit of an echo as the mic picked up the sound coming from the speakers. I had my headphones on, so that didn’t happen for Ian.
My main disappointment with iChat is why Apple picked AIM to interoperate with. In Canada, hardly anyone has an AOL account, and I imagine outside the US it’s the same. So, why not pick something like Jabber, which is an open source protocol and likely to be anointed by the IETF as the messaging and presence protocol of choice?
And, since I have about 4 other IM accounts (all of which work with Fire), it’s annoying to have to run iChat as well.
Of course, with the audio quality I experienced, I can definitely imagine people going out and getting access to a Mac on either end of a connection.
From the menu items I was looking at, it seems like you can do a multi-person audio chat. Have to wait until some more Mac people are online at the same time.
BTW – Yahoo Messenger is the only cross-platform IM client I know of that supports audio and video.