The service and accompanying website only rolled out last night, but already I'm finding things that should be present, but aren't. The Help section on the Google Talk page, for example, refers to numerous pages that say nothing other than
Document Not Found
Sorry, the document you requested is not available. You can return to the referring page.
I'll cut them some slack on that, though. Even Google deserves a few days to get their act together. It's still Beta, afterall.
Since there's no Mac client, those of us at TUAW and many of our colleagues across the Weblogs, Inc. network were firing up iChat last night in order to test drive talk.google.com. With the exception of a bizarre half hour where I was demonically possessed, the account setup went smoothly and within mere seconds of inputting the proper settings, I was talking to friends and family who had gmail.com email addresses.
That's my first gripe - as Mac user without a standalone Google Talk client, I was at the mercy of knowing someone's gmail address in order to connect with them, or having to look it up in one of my many address books. The Windows-only Google Talk client has a built-in search engine that culls from your existing Gmail address book. There is no such search engine in iChat, obviously. While I know that Google can't dictate how third-party applications are built and how well those clients interact with their own service, I'm baffled as to why they - once again - released a new service without a Mac-compatible client. The glut of Mac-based chat clients proves that it can't be all that hard to do. I expect more from Google. After all, they pride themselves on not being evil, right?
If I'm stuck using iChat (which I use all day anyway, so it's no big deal), here are a few features I'd like to have:
(more after the jump)
- I want to be able to drag and drop from my iChat buddy list to my Google Talk buddy list. If a buddy's address book entry has a Gmail address in it, that little green + sign should pop up and they should appear in the new list. Much like I can already do when I drag a name from my Bonjour buddy list. If there's a mac.com or AIM handle available for that person, I can add them in a snap by dragging them to my iChat/AIM buddy list.
- I want group chat. Where's the group chat?
- I want the ability to have different status messages for each buddy list.
- I want both buddy lists available from within a single window, either tabbed or grouped in a single pane. Preferably tabbed.
- I want audio chat to work across clients. Right now, iChat to iChat audio works just as it should and as it always has with AIM and mac.com buddies. The green phone icon appears next to the buddy's name if they are audio-enabled. Click it to request permission and start speaking (assuming you have audio capabilities as well). But I want iChat to Adium audio as well. I haven't seen yet whether audio works cross platform from iChat to Google Talk for Windows or other non-Mac clients. I suspect it doesn't. For that matter, I wasn't able to chat at all with any Windows folk last night other than a lonely TabletPC user. Admittedly, my sample size is very small since most of the folks I know use Macs.
What have your Google Talk experiences been so far? Anything you'd like to add to my list?