So you're sick and tired of AOL Instant Messenger. You're looking for something fresh and new that will just work. Well Google feels the same way. On Wednesday August 24th they released their version of AIM, Google Talk.
Although Google Talk and AIM do basically the same thing, Google Talk is very different. For starters anyone can join AIM, in order to use Google Talk you need to have a Gmail account. AIM will also let you make a profile, Google Talk you can't. However there are more features on Google Talk that are left out in AIM.
Google Talk's main feature is being able to call friends that are on your list. Call means being able to talk through a microphone to them and they respond through theirs, much like the service Skype. There is a similar feature in the current version of AIM; however it's not as easy to use.
Let's say you're talking to someone in the conversation window. You decide that this conversation would work a lot better over the phone. Well don't get up and dial a number, simply plug in the microphone and headphones and guess what you're connected, just like a phone. All you have to do is press the "Call" button in the window, you'll hear a dial tone, and when the other user accepts you're connected.
At the top of the window, when call is activated, you'll see a volume meter for your friend and one for you. All it takes is a click of a button, how easy is that?
The other easy thing about Google Talk is the simplicity behind making a customized message. When you're online you'll have a small snippet under your name. You can customize that to whatever you want, that could be considered somewhat of a profile. You can also see peoples' away messages right under their name. Making an away message is just as simple as changing the text under your name. Just go to the drop down list under your name in the window (not the friends list) and go to the "Custom Message" with the red circle next to it.
Google has also added a feature to make it easier to sign up for the service. When you select to add a friend you can insert an email address that isn't a Gmail one. All it does is email the person letting them know about the service and offering a download link. This makes it really easy to convince your friends to make the switch.
Another feature that is greatly appreciated in Google Talk is the way it works directly with Gmail. You can add people on your contacts to the service within the Google Talk interface, plus it will notify you when a new email has been received. You can also go directly to your Gmail inbox via a link from the interface.
This next feature won't mean much to the average user, but to some misfortunate geeks with low RAM it may. Google Talk consumes around 3MB of RAM. AOL Instant Messenger takes around 9MB. If you have a lot of other programs open and you can't afford to waste RAM Google Talk will work great.
Google Talk is also much cleaner looking than AIM. There are no ads and no added crap like a stock ticker or news ticker. However the one thing that I'd like to see in Google Talk is notifications that tell you when someone logs on or off. This feature has been available in AIM for about 2 years.
There some other things that could be enhanced. In the settings menu I'd like to see a setting to customize how often it checks the Gmail mailbox, customize sounds, and more customization for notifications.
Staying on the topic of customization I'd like to see, in later versions, the option to add categories in your friends list. Something so you could put all your family under one list, friends under the others and so on.
Overall I wouldn't rush out and download Google Talk quite yet. Right now I'd think that it would be more convenient to corporations so that employees can interact with each other. It won't take down AIM, because AIM is just too popular, but it might steal some Yahoo! Messenger or MSN users.
This article was originally posted on http://www.p2btech.com
Although this is the full article, screen shots are avilable at http://www.p2btech.com/googletalk.html
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