Google Talk: The Review

Well I have been playing with Google Talk for a day or two right now. Here are my thoughts…

This has the protential to be the killer IM application.

Think about that for a moment will ya? Oh, you think that IM’s bubble has already burst? I hate to say it, but you are totally wrong.

First off, every teenager and college student has instant messenger. Right now on my AIM buddy list I have approximately 200 buddies combined from SNHU and Sunapee High. IM has become more important (and addicting) then e-mail and the web for many of us. These days, if we are at our computer we IM someone before we call them. Heck, if we can’t reach someone that way, we will IM someone down the hall on this particular person’s whereabouts. When all else fails do we attempt an e-mail.

Kinda pathetic but pretty funny.

So where does Google Talk fit into all of us?

Easy. For a long time we have been putting up with subpar IM clients that have one or all of the following going against them:

  1. Can only talk to its network and no one else *cough*AIM*cough*MSN*cough*Yahoo
  2. Has a serious infection of ads *cough*AIM*cough*MSN*
  3. Has the nerve to play audio ads at the most idiotic times possible(I saw you hiding there AIM)
  4. Has an uninspired, cluttered, and slapped together interface (pretty much everyone)
  5. Did I mention a buggy and memory bloating program for something as simple as sending text messages and the occassional picture?

Sure there were attempts to combine the best of the big 3 IM services into one interface. Trillian, Miranda, Gaim, etc. Most fail due to big time bugs (just try to attempt a file transfer behind a firewall without unblocking ports or putting your computer in a DMZ or worse…directly on the Internet, I dare you), horrible user interfaces, and a lack of features.

Google is going to change all of this. Right now, they have just the basic IM client. You can’t even change font sizes/colors yet. But wait, what is this I see?

  1. A simple and smart interface. Not cluttered, easy to figure out, and quite beautiful.
  2. A small (less then 1 MB) download and just 4 M of memory currently. That is unheard of in 2005 for any program, nevermind an IM client.
  3. The easiest voice talk interface I have used yet.
  4. Open standards via Jabber.
  5. The promise of encryption turned on by default in the near future. Talk about stellar.
  6. My mom e-mailed me asking about this new Google IM program she heard on the news. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

With the Jabber protocol being used, Google has the foundation built an entire free and open network for IM and voice talk, in fact they announced they are working on adding networks to Google Talk ASAP. The current status quo of not being able to use one chat program to talk to another chat program is going to end soon. No more separation like in the early days of the Internet when you couldn’t e-mail an AOL customers.

Here is my prediction. Within 2 years, we will be able to use any IM program to talk to any other IM program. Google Talk might not rule, but it will be the reason why things will change.