As was widely rumored, Google has released its instant messaging client, Google Talk. The download is small and the installation is quick, and the UI is rather simple as you might expect. I haven’t even used the instant messaging features yet, but I’m pretty enamored with its functionality as an incoming email notifier for Google Mail, which I’m currently using for nearly all of my personal email. Feel free to ping me if you like — my ID is rafeco.
Update: I’ve been IMing with a couple of people via Google Talk. It is as you would expect — small, clean, simple. I like it better than most other IM clients (even Trillian, which I use for AIM and Yahoo). Right now it doesn’t turn your smileys into graphics, it just turns them blue. I wonder if that’s just a stopgap measure or if Google is philosophically opposed to smiley-munging. Time will tell.
Another update: this Search Engine Watch article provides a good roundup of what Google Talk offers, including a useful chart that compares Google Talk’s features with those of other leading IM clients. They rightly point out that unlike Gmail, which revolutionized web mail, or Google Maps, which was a quantum leap ahead of other online mapping sites, Google Talk does not blow you away right out of the gate.
I think the killer feature from a user standpoint is Google’s decision to use XMPP as their IM protocol and thus open their service to any XMPP (Jabber) client. They have also thrown down the gauntlet before the leaders in the IM space to interoperate via XMPP. Hopefully they’ll respond by doing so, the lack of interoperability in the IM world has irritated me for a long time.