Google Talk

I'm a big fan of most of the apps that Google has put forth. When Google Talk was first introduced, I immediately tried to get as many people as I could to switch over. It was such an improvement over my existing IM tools (Yahoo and MSN). The biggest thing for me was that it didn't pollute the interface with ads, gadgets, tools, and other crap. It let you instant message, and that was it. There were no ads. The built-in voice chat was actually easy to use out of the box. It was great!

But that was almost four years ago. Google has since released three additional versions of the chat client, while not making any significant improvements to the original Google Talk desktop app. Your choices now are:

The Google Talk Desktop App
The Google Talk Desktop App, Labs Edition
The Google Talk Gadget (Web Version)
Google Talk in GMail

As well as customized versions for the iPhone and BlackBerry. To further confuse the issue, the various versions to do not have complementary features. The original desktop version does not have group chat, but does have voice chat. The new Labs version has group chat, but no voice chat. The GMail version permits communicating with your AOL IM contacts, but not in the original desktop App. The web gadget and the Labs addition appear identical to me so far, but I haven't dug that deeply. And they are all labeled "beta". So which am I supposed to use?

For a while I used Pidgin, which allowed me to run one application and connect to all of my instant messaging services. I stopped because it was not very reliable at staying connected. I haven't used it for over a year now, and several new releases have been issued. If you use a lot of different clients, I highly recommend it.

Getting back to my point, the Google Talk situation is a mess. Google really needs to have a sit down with the product manager for Google Talk and get his mind right. There are too many versions with too many variations of features.


Jade Mason