Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk

The much talked-about IM-client from Google is now here. But Google Talk isn't just another IM client...it's a Jabber client, which means you could connect to the Google Talk server through any XMPP-compatible IM client if you want to IM Google Talk users (you'll need a Gmail account, though). Most importantly, and as the name suggests, it allows you to talk to fellow Google Talk users online via VoIP, just like Skype, a service that's been around for a quite a while and which has some pretty cool features Google Talk doesn't yet have (though Skype's best ones, i.e. calling and receiving calls from phone-users, aren't free).

Right now, the only advantage (if you can even call it that) I can see is that Talk has a cleaner interface compared to Skype, which is already expected from Google, but it won't be enough to convince others. I won't be using this first release of Talk. But I am holding my breath for the next version. Just read this excerpt from the FAQ to find out why (see my emphasis at the end):

15. What new features are you working on?

We could tell you, but then you'd have to promise to not talk about it... Joking aside, Google Talk is still in beta, and we're working hard to add features and make improvements. We're just not quite ready yet to reveal the other cool things we've got planned. We can say this, though: we believe strongly in user choice and open standards, and we are committed to letting users access Google Talk using the client and platform of their choice, as well as to enabling our users to talk with users from other service providers.
That last part is what I'm going to wait for. Imagine being able to call othe VoIP users using the better-looking Talk client...I wonder if Skype will cooperate...that'd be awesome.

One feature suggestion, though: make the IM-part multi-protocol (like GAIM, Trillian, Miranda-IM, etc.). I'd like to use a single IM client in order to save resources, and the fact that Google Talk is very light on memory makes me want to use it even more as my *only* IM-client, except most of my friends are Yahoo users. Of course, Google's commitment to open standards might contradict supporting proprietary IM protocols like Yahoo's or Microsoft's. But anyway, here's to a superb version 2.0!

Update: An easter egg has been found lurking in Google Talk's About window. It shows you how to play Hunt the Wumpus by adding wumpus.game@gmail.com. Read the details here.