Today, Google really introduced what was already rumored for some time: Google Talk - Google's own IM and VoIP service which is based on the Jabber standard.
Google Talk is a simple and free way to talk with and send instant messages to your friends. Like Gmail, Google Talk uses Google's innovative technologies to help people communicate more effectively and efficiently.
Google Talk is easy and intuitive to use. All you need to make free calls is an Internet connection, a microphone, and a speaker. After you download Google Talk, sign in with your Gmail username and password. Invite your friends to download Google Talk, and once they do, you'll be able to talk or IM with them instantly.
Google Talk offers you:
- Choice: Get in touch how and when you want toÃ¢â‚¬â€œover email, IM or a call
- Quality: Talk through your computer but hear your friends as if they were in the same room
- Convenience: Your Gmail contacts are pre-loaded into Google Talk so inviting or talking to your friends is just a click away
Right now, Google Talk is in beta and requires a Gmail username and password. If you use Windows on your PC, you can download the Google Talk client, if you use other operating systems or computer systems, Google Talk can/should be used with any Jabber client as well.
Since it isn't designed (yet) to call into PSTNs, it's not a competition for Skype at all but for sure it will take some market shares from Skype as well as from other IM providers like MSN, Yahoo, etc. I wonder what Google is planning next?
UPDATE: If you want to try Google Talk with your mobile device like Pocket PC or Smartphone, you might want to check Shape Services' IM+ which also supports the used Jabber protocol but for IM only - VoIP isn't supported yet. (Thanks to Stephan for the hint)
UPDATE 2: I've just tested it with Stephan from smartphone-web.com and well - nice try and everything else than "Beta" would be a shame! Voice is crap, it's a kind of "can you hear me" experience I had in the early 90's with my mobile phone/late 90's with the first VoIP services and the IM-service is super basic. It even doesn't convert smiles into icons but change the color to blue only.
On the other hand I love the simple user interface (and overal small footprint of the application) which is way better than all the other IM user interfaces which are either too colorful, blown up with graphics or wasted with ads.
UPDATE 3: As reported here, IM+ seems not to support Google Talk yet. Too bad. :-( I have to test it later too, wait for "Update 4". ;-)
Cheers ~ Arne