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Happy Birthday Google Talk - A Look Back & Forward


By hagrin - Posted on 24 August 2006

Happy Birthday Google Talk says the Official Google Blog. After 1 year of existence, Google Talk has really come a long way from basically being a novelty IM client where I could play the "Wumpus Game" (notice that Wumpus is never logged on anymore?) to a "functional" IM system. What really sets Google Talk apart currently is its integration with other Google services and products. Let's see what the GTalk team has accomplished.

Google Talk was integrated directly into your Gmail contacts list which really made IMing an enjoyable experience if no IM client was installed or could be installed on the machine you were using. The Gmail integration far surpasses other web based attempts at IM such as AOL Express which was a nightmare to use and caused random browser crashes. In addition, chats were saved into a Gmail Chat folder and the superior search capabilities of Google were integrated into IM chat logs (something I have used quite a few times). We saw the introduction of a voicemail system, user profile pictures, themes and a porting of Google Talk to work on Blackberry devices (something I am anxious to get installed and working). Finally, we have seen the introduction of file transfers which was made simple and easy to use - a feature that was a make or break item for many IM users. Hopefully, with the most recent additions, we'll see a more widespread adoption of Google Talk.

But where does GTalk need to go tomorrow? Users need the ability to host multi-user chat sessions. Personally, I would like to see an encryption system come standard with every Google Talk install (something that I miss using the Google Talk client instead of my GAIM + Encryption plug-in). Another feature that I could personally benefit from would be a corporate release of Google Talk where chats could be stored locally within a network, VoIP sessions would travel over VPN tunnels and would be searchable using a Google hardware appliance. I'm sure others have a much longer list than I do; however, I love Google Talk's sleekness and lack of "bloat" (read - one of the few Google applications that hasn't been inundated with ads) so hopefully they will be very wary of adding new, unnecessary features.

I know Google Talk may never surpass the AIM user base and that's fine with me - as long as I can convert the people I talk to most over instant messaging. Google Talk remains one of my favorite Google applications and I hope to see additional improvements while keeping it basic, simple and bloat-free.