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Google Talks — kind of August 25, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam.
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Anytime one of the big boys comes up with a new gadget, I tend to be a little forgiving, especially with Google. Compared to AOL, Yahoo and others, the big G keeps its list of toys on the light side but the ones they do have work pretty well. Not everyone agrees, (Blogger is one that gets plenty of negative attention) but it’s usually due to personal preferences. I like what I like, you like what you like and we both use what works best, right?I just downloaded Google Talk and it looks like Skype Lite. Wait, it IS Skype Lite so why change? Well, there are a few reasons to consider it. The most important one is audio clarity and as soon as I get a pal to help me test it and Skype side-by-side I’ll let you know which one works best for me. Until someone comes up with a better short name, I’ll be calling it Gtalk, too.

What I did like about Google Talk was the auto-inclusion of my Gmail contact list. I can click and remove the erroneous entries, which is a whole lot faster than adding each name manually (i.e. AIM–but even it is easier than it used to be thanks to savable “buddy lists?).I also liked the absence of advertising. I don’t really mind ads if they’re not flashing me into epileptic fits. That irritating feature drove me to using AIM’s web-based interface, “AIM Express? instead of the normal software. So while I cannot forcibly subject friends to my favorite Buddy Icon, I can chat in visual peace. I call that a fair trade.

With Gtalk, you can select how you want to contact someone. Click the phone icon, M email icon or click on the name and start an IM. That’s easy enough and handy.

My “Don’t Like? list reads more like a wish list. Pending audio quality, most everything about Gtalk is acceptable. A real big wish is for my mac pals. There is no mac version but since Gtalk supports the Jabber/XMPP protocol, mac users can choose between Adium, GAIM, iChat or Psi for IMs but—if I read it correctly–not for voice calls by adding Gtalk’s server and port to their preferred client. Bummer. That’s a big one and something Skype already does.

As mentioned two paragraphs up, users have the choice of IM/phone/email. What they don’t have is file swapping. Another feature Skype users have that Gtalk’s do not.

Nutshelling: At this time, Gtalk’s clean, easy-to-use interface makes it worth keeping an eye on but until those missing features are included it won’t be my preferred method of contacting a pal online.

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