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In this chapter, we're going to take a look at some of the new features of iChat, the instant messaging application that's been part of OS X for many years now. iChat has come a long way since its beginning, with each new version adding more powerful and useful features such as audio and video chatting, support for multiple video chats, special effects filters, screen sharing via iChat Theater and so on. The latest version of iChat found in Snow Leopard, like Snow Leopard itself, contains many under-the-hood improvements in addition to a couple of more tangible new features. Some of the behind-the-scenes enhancements include increased reliability, so if iChat has trouble making a direct connection to a buddy it will switch to the AOL Instant Messenger relay server which acts as a known intermediary between computers.
iChat also requires two-thirds less bandwidth in Snow Leopard than it did in Leopard. Where Leopard required 900 kilobytes per second upstream to support a 640x480 video chat, Snow Leopard requires only 300 kilobytes per second. This also allows you to display iChat Theater content at 640x480, giving you the ability to make video presentations at a higher resolution and clarity than was previously available. But these are the kinds of things you'll have to checkout for yourself to see. Let's take a look at some of the more obvious new features of iChat next.
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