Gtalk in Gmail, A Critique

Now you can talk in Google Talk all within your browser. Earlier in the week Google enabled a feature allowing you to save Gtalk conversation directly to your Gmail account. Now you can instant message from it as well. This sounds great right? Well it's not and I'll tell you why. First hearing of this news I was delighted. I ran to my inbox and tried to find out how to start using it. Nothing was there. No Quick Contacts menu in the sidebar, nothing. What was all of this about then? A painful reminder to mac users that we suck. I was, of course, using Apple's Safari browser. Google Talk, the application itself, only runs on Windows so what would be the point of integrating GTalk into a system that already had the client? I thought that maybe Google had done this so that Linux and Mac users can enjoy the nifty, lightweight Jabber-powered instant messaging offered by Google Talk but I was obviously wrong. In a last resort, I opened up Firefox and was mildly delighted to see that everything was swell.

If you are a Gmail user, head over to your inbox and let me know what you think. Hovering over emails creates a window allowing you to initiate a Gtalk session with them and show them in your quick contacts list. Hovering over a quick contact gives you the options of gmailing that person, viewing their contact details as well as previous conversation history. Once a chat has been initiated it becomes docked in the bottom right of your browser window, which you can undock into a new window. You are even allowed to "go off the record" when talking with someone, which means whatever you type won't be stored into the Gmail chat logs. That's a great feature that I can see being used when letting someone know an IP to a server or a password. This way, if your Gmail account was ever compromised you would not be entirely screwed over. It does not seem that you can use the voice feature of Gtalk with the Gtalk in Gmail, but with Skype's dominance over the market in that area I doubt anyone will miss it.

Gtalk in Gmail