More than a year ago Google stirred the internet and revolutionised it by introducing Gmail! People instantly started believing that whatever Google would do would turn into gold. And ever since then Google has gone into frenzy. They have expanded at a tremendous rate, announcing new services every now and then.
3 days ago an article by NYTIMES hinting the launch of a Google IM got the whole world interested. People have been demanding a Google IM for quite a long time now, and indeed this Public demand may have played a major role in goggle’s decision to venture into this new arena.
Since it’s launch yesterday, Google Talk has been downloaded by thousands, but does it live up to it’s expectation?
Installation and Settings.
When I decided to download G!Talk the first thing that caught my notice was it’s size. It is almost 1/8 th the size of it’s competitors (MSN and Y!M)! The installation is very straight forward and simple as with any other MS Windows based software. But it isnt compatible with Windows 98. A considerable amount of people still use Windows 98, and i belive that Google could have easily made it compatible with Win 98.
The G!Talk’s interface bears the characteristic of all other Google services. Simple , uncluttered yet impressive. There is not plethora of buttons to explore,irritating pop-up,ads and sponsor provided Xtras.
There is only three buttons – Inbox,Settings,Help.Among the settings one particular setting caught my attention. Under the Privacy option there is an option to “Add people I communicate with often to my Friends list”. I wonder what does ‘communicate with often’ mean. The other settings are very general.
Adding of friends is really simple. I just needed to enter the contact’s email id in the Add friends tab. If the friend was already in my contact-list, then Google talk would suggest his name as I typed. However if would have been nice if I was allowed to import all my contacts to the friend list.
However it allows me to choose the friends I would like to add from the contact list through a nice interface. However to bring that up you need to type something in the Add friends tab and press “Enter”. This is one disadvantage of having too few buttons. Google, automatically sends an invite to my friends inbox. It would have been better if it allowed the user to choose if he wanted to sent an email. But things really get messy when my friend accepts that invitation. I get another invitation in my inbox asking me to try G!Talk! Pretty dumb.
The Real thing
G!Talk uses the jabber protocol.It provides a pretty much barebones chat.It doest even allow any avtaar or emotions. The text chat window is very basic and lacks even font options button. However it is possible to make your text bold, italised etc(discussed later).If you enter any recognized emotion code then G!Talk makes it bold and blue in colour, just like things were in the olden days. It is these factors that gives me the feeling that instead of being a very simple and appealing IM for everyone G!Talk would probably satisfy the geeks more.
When you talk with more than one person G!Talk automatically stacks them up nicely. There is a cool transition effect too. But, again this could have been done in a much better fashion. Due to the way Google stacks up the chat windows one needs to click on the top once and the bottom the next time. This gets really irritating. It would have been better if Google always placed the stack on top, instead of the current fashion.
If someone messages you while G!Talk is out of focus then it displays a nice toast, in a fashion similar to MSN.
Now let’s get to the real thing. Google is marketing G!Talk as more of a VOIP than an IM tool(it is evident from G!Talk’s home page).To call another person all you need to do it to click on the telephone icon beside his name. On my 256kbps connection the voice clarity was pretty good, much better than conventional telephone.
Google also notifies you if you recieve a new email.However this is a standard feature found in all IM’s.
Tweaks and Easter Eggs
Here are some nice things I have found out about G!Talk from friends and forums.(Thanks Sourabh, Vinay, Neowin and Digit)
To make the text appear in bold use the format * text *
To make the text appear in italics use the format _ text _
To use both bold and italics use * _ text _ *
[Remove the spaces]
Adding custom parameters
The parameter /nomutex allows you to open more than one instance.
The parameter /checkupdate makes it check for new updates.
[To use the parameters to the following
1.Go to Run from start menu.
2.Type in the location of G!talk and add the parameter.
e.g. “c:\program Files\Google\Google Talk\googletalk.exe” /nomutex
Don’t forget to use ” ” the are needed.
Alternatively you can create a new shortcut and add the location+parameter as the target.]
If you click on the about box then you see play 23 21 13 16 21 19 . 7 1 13 5 . If you substitute the numbers for words you would get “wumpus.game”. Add wumpus.game to your contact list and when he/she appears online you can play an old IRC game. Type ‘help’ to get instructions for playing the game.
Integrate into the Google Sidebar
For those of you who have downloaded Google Desktop Search and use it in the sidebar mode, you can integrate G!talk into it. To do this click the down arrow and select customize alerts. From Panels tab check Google Talk.
Click here for screenshot.
You can download Google Desktop search from here
Broadcast MP3’s, Podcasts and other audio over Google Talk ~TWIT Exclusive
Click here for instructions.
The expectations from G!Talk was sky high and after trying it for a day I am dissapointed.It is just a little to limited. I don’t want it to be bloated with features like some of the other IM’s but Google should consider adding avtars, graphic emotions,and conferences in future.From Google Talk’s home page it seems like Google is only concentrating on VOIP at the moment.Mess.be while ridiculing g!talk did make a valid point.They said – G!talk is “much like the very first version of MSN Messenger.So just wait another year and we’ll talk again.”
We should not forget that it is a first public beta of G!Talk.
Pros:Extremely light;simple;no ads;voice quality is good.
Cons:Messy invitation system;tabbing of windows needs more work;lacks basic features like avtaars and emotions;doesnt work in Win 98;very very limited features.
Ending Comment : My friend Sourabh Kalantari said this:
I guess I now figured that google mite have started to work on the IM thing last nite when there were rumours abt this …LOL!
Score : 3.5/10