Google Talk

GoogleThe latest buzz on the Interweb is Google Talk, Google’s entry into the IM/Internet Phone (VOIP?) arena. The Instant Messenger text chat portion of Google Talk works as you would expect, letting you invite contacts from GMail very easily. Apparently you need a GMail account to use the program, but if you’re invited to be someone’s Google Talk contact, an invitation to GMail is supposedly included. I have a bunch of GMail invitations, by the way, in case anyone still needs one. You can also connect to Google Talk via GAIM and Trillian (among others), two popular open source IM applications that use the Jabber/XMPP protocol. However, I was unable to get GAIM to work despite trying some suggestions at smash’s world. I’ll keep trying to see whether I’m missing something there…

The Internet Phone option worked surprisingly well. Once Shaft and I figured out our respective microphone issues, the sound clarity was pretty decent, with only minor feedback and glitches. The review at Skype Journal was positive overall but pointed out some features that are lacking when compared to Skype and other IM clients. I haven’t tried Skype myself; I believe the only other Internet Phone-type application that I’ve tried was Dialpad, and it worked reasonably well, if I remember correctly.

Overall, Google Talk is definitely worth a try. I don’t use any particular IM client regularly, so I don’t have any strong ties to a particular community to break. I imagine that would be a concern for many, and that could be partially ameliorated by using a client like GAIM or Trillian that can access most of the major IM applications at once. The Internet Phone experience was fairly positive, and it’s very compelling at the moment, considering that it’s totally free(!). I wonder whether that will change, but it seems that many of Google’s offerings have remained that way, with ad revenues somehow monetizing their efforts. I guess the program is technically still in Beta, so who knows?

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