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March 21, 2011

Joint App Brings Instant Messaging, Group Chat to Twitter

Twitter's direct messaging system is an easy way for two people to engage in back and forth discussion through the site, but the serve and volley type of chat is a far cry from real-time, and doesn't allow for broader group chat. Today, Joint, brought to you from the team behind LazyFeed and LazyScope, is launching to bring the flow of instant messaging and semi-persistent chat topics to your existing Twitter social graph. You can get your exclusive invite by posting a comment or by following @imjoint on Twitter.

With group chat applications on mobile being all the rage, the desktop experience has been somewhat forgotten, but a dedicated app presents the best keyboard and CPU cycles to avoid any latency between updates, argues founder Ethan Gahng. And once you've tried Joint with a friend or two, you can see how fast you can go from the ping pong manner of DMs in Twitter to real, instant, conversation.

I Can Invite You to Joint Via a Personal URL

You first get connected with Joint through getting invited by a friend through a dedicated, personal, URL. (Such as this one) You are then asked to download a small Adobe AIR client that runs on multiple platforms, and near instantly discovers your Twitter social graph, letting you have real-time chats with people to whom you are bidirectionally connected. This way, all of those with whom you can send and receive DMs can also chat with you in Joint.

Joint In Action With Friends On Left, Chat Rooms Center, Discussion Right
(Click for Full Size Image)

If your friends are using Joint, public chat rooms they have created are displayed in the left sidebar, so you can pop into any chat room and start talking with those who are there. It's a lot like Convore, but on the desktop, and designed as much for 1-1 communication as for static topic chats. In fact, the chat rooms in Joint are set up so that new users who join a room don't see previous entries. Magically, if every user leaves a chat room, it too disappears, so don't be surprised if you set up a popular room more than once.

Adding A New Comment to An Existing Chat Room In Joint
(Click for Full Size Image)

What makes Joint even more like the well-known world of instant messaging (IM) is the idea of status indicators. A green status bubble means you are signed in, while a clock shows you are idle. Once in, you can create a room with any topic, or invite any of your friends to join you. You have the option to create the room with three types - Public, Protected, or Stealth. Clearly, public rooms are open to all, protected means the creator requires a password, and stealth rooms are not displayed at all - even to friends. To get into a protected room, you must be invited, or enter the known password. Stealth rooms even feature a cool stealth bomber icon.

Before you shrug off Joint as "yet another chatroom" service, think of using this first to replace those back and forth DM sessions you've no doubt had with friends, and then think about starting real group chat with your Twitter social graph. Want to get in? Leave me a comment, and follow @imjoint on Twitter. This one's a keeper.