Today Google announced the launch of Google Talk, a new instant messenger service (download here). Google Talk is a lean, mean, chatting machine. I downloaded it this morning, and Christina downloaded it at home, and we began chatting.
Before we begin, I will warn you, Google Talk only works with Gmail accounts. And, as we remember, Gmail accounts require an invitation from people who currently have Gmail accounts. So, if you don’t have a Gmail account, and you want to try Google Talk, use my contact form.
Once you download (only 900k! That’s less than five minutes on dial-up!) the application and install it, you are ready to go. The first thing I noticed was how clean the interface is. There aren’t any clunky buttons, and there are no advertisements. *Yay*. Right there, Google has already made me a fan.
You can import all of your Gmail contacts into your list (without inviting them to Google Talk), or you can pick and choose from your contact list. I went ahead and invited some people that I thought might actually use the program, and that kept my list fairly manageable.
Google Talk replaces Gmail Notify, because Google Talk keeps track of your new email messages as well. Any time you have a new message (in Gmail or in Google Talk), a small alert appears with the beginning of the message.
When you open a conversation with somebody, there are a couple of cool features that you should note. First, in most traditional IM programs (see example below), every time I type in a new message, my name appears at the front of each line, even if there has been no response from your conversation partner in between messages.
Not with Google Talk. If you add a new message before your conversation partner responds, your message is appended to your previous message. In the window at below, I first typed: “That is cool… If I add before you finish talking, it just adds without putting my name in front.” Then I pressed Enter. Then I typed: “Yeah. Pretty cool.” Then I pressed Enter. Then I typed “I also like the lean interface. No advertising. No obtrusive buttons, etc.” Then I pressed enter. Three separate messages, but they have been grouped into one message, because there was no response in between them.
Notice, too, how clean the chat window is! I love how unobtrusive it is!
The second feature that I really like is this: when you are in the middle of a conversation, and you are using another application, if your conversation partner sends you a message, you get the same small alert that you normally get when you have a new message or a new e-mail. Google Talk knows that it isn’t the “active” application, so it uses the message alerts to let you know that your partner has responded.
You can even use Google Talk for voice conversations. I don’t have a microphone at my desk, so I couldn’t try this feature out. If you have, post a comment here and let me know how it worked.
Some reviews I have read on Google Talk today have complained about Google Talk’s lack of features. Well, this is a beta release. Before the general release, I’m sure there will be more features. But part of what I *like* about it is that it doesn’t have a lot of clutter (which sometimes pass for features).
Anyway, if you are interested, you should download it and try it. If you want to add me as a conversation partner and you don’t know my email address, use the contact form (liked to above), and send me your Gmail address, and I’ll add you as a partner.
And on a side note, I’m going to have to make a subcategory for Google, since posts on Google probably make up more than half of the posts I have categorized under the Software category!