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Google Talk Adds Some New Features, But Misses The Mark

GTalk (Google Talk) might not be the most popular IM client, but gosh dang I love it... it's a great notifier for when your Gmail account gets new e-mail. I like the simple chat interface, I like that my chat logs are searchable in my Gmail account on the web (so even though I might switch from my notebook to my PC, my logs are in the same place), and when you need it, you can jump into a voice chat that works great.
Last week I got really excited when I saw a web site entry regarding an upcoming GTalk update with new features like File Transfer, Voice mail, and music integration to let people know what you are listening to.
Well today the update was released, and while I wouldn't ask them to take back the new features, I really think that Google missed an opportunity here to make the features even better.
For instance, the File Transfer. I have been itching for this for some time now, so I am greatful it's here in any form, but I have a laudry list of complaints.
  • There is no option whatsoever to change the location where received files are saved.
  • When you Send/Receive an image file, the images are embedded in your chat window without anyway to collapse or clear them. In some cases these images can take up the entire space of the chat window. I like having the option to drag-and-drop a photo into the conversation and be able to quickly view it with the person, but for the most part I want to send the file to them and not have it invade the chat space.
  • Transfered files are not saved to the Gmail chat logs as attachments. This is my million dollar idea for GTalk/Gmail integration. I love how each chat session is saved to Gmail like it's own e-mail, it would just make so much sense if files shared within that chat session were stored with it. This seemed like a very natural thing to have had in from the get-go... I signed-in to my Gmail account because I expected to see my chat log have the little paper clip icon, but it didn't. In a chat I had with a buddy of mine, we were passing some photos back and forth and talking about them, but in the Gmail log the photos were missing, and the whole thing read awkward.
Another new feature they could have done better on is the Voice mail feature. I love that I can leave a message for someone who is either away or offline... but why does it arrive in their Gmail account only, and not available to playback directly in GTalk? This is completely lame. It's Google Talk, it should be the one talking to me, it shouldn't tell me to log into my Gmail to get my message.
I do like that I can retrieve and listen to the message from within Gmail (I even really digg on the interface to play the audio), but the process is flawed. For instance: I get a Voice mail from a friend of mine, and the 1st thing I want to do is reply with a voice mail message of my own, but I can't - not within Gmail at least. I can only send them a text reply to their voice mail. This really makes me feel like a lame duck. They really need to add Voice mail playback directly into the GTalk client.
The music status support is an awesome feature where your status is the Artist/Song of whatever you are currently listening to on your computer. I know Google isn't the first to do this, in fact, I have felt left out for the longest time because I had friends that used alternate IM clients/plug-in that have been doing this for years (and years). I was never the cool one.
I think Google should take it a step further and allow the people you are chatting with to be able to listen in on what you are playing. One of my favorite things about Macromedia's Central application was it had a chat pod where you could select the input source as your sound card and anything you played was sent out to the channel. People would host their own little radio stations, it was pretty cool. I would love if someone I was chatting with, or just someone on my friends list chimed in saying "I see you are listening to So-and-so, I have been wanting to check them out" and you could hit a button and stream 30-seconds of playback to them or something. That would rock.
That would rock indeed.
1 Comment

User Comments

Thursday, August 17th 2006
Have you sent your assesment to the Gmail team? Great ideas like these need to be shared. Cuz' Gtalk could rock harder with these ideas.

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