Chatting has pretty much stayed the same since the invention of AIM. Sure, a bunch of other chat clients have entered the fray. Yahoo, Google Chat, Trillian, and dozens of other programs exist, but they all do pretty much the same thing. Chatting is chatting. Whatever program you happen to be using to do it doesn't change the experience all that much.
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At least, that's the way things were until this afternoon. Google just announced the creation of 'Google Wave', a new chatting utility that could very well be the killer app that ushers in the next generation of chatting programs. Wave, which was designed by the makers of Google Maps, is still in development, but what they've already accomplished is pretty droolworthy.
Wave is a live chat session. Each word is transmitted live as you type it (although you can turn that off with the draft function). Image sharing and document transfers are all done live. Just drag and drop a photo onto the chat screen, and it'll transmit it to whoever you're yakking with. You can also share and edit documents in real time, which allows multiple people to look at and edit the same document at the same time.
The coolest utility in Wave is definitely the real time translation feature. You read that right; Wave will be able to translate a person's words as they type them. For that, if for no other reason, Wave is going to be a huge thing for international business. And, to make things better, both the iPhone and all Android capable smartphones can look forward to catching this Wave when it comes out.
We've got no expected ETA for Wave's release, but it's likely the chat client will have even more nifty new features by the time it goes live. Wave is going to be an open protocol, which means that any developer with a dream and some programming skill can create new features. I can hardly wait.