A new Google gadget lets users embed the company's Talk instant-messaging service in Web pages, expanding the reach of this product, originally introduced as a downloadable PC application.
The Google Talk Gadget, released Wednesday, displays a Flash-based interface on Web pages for users to exchange text messages with people on their Google Talk contacts list. Unlike the Talk PC application, the gadget requires no software download. It loads automatically with the Web page it's on.
By inserting a line of code, the gadget can be added to Web pages, including Google's Personalized Home Page, a customized Web portal users can tailor with Google and third-party online services and information sources. For the gadget to work, users must have version 8 or above of Adobe Systems's Flash Player.
In addition to text messaging, people can use the gadget interface to initiate a voice chat, but the Talk application is needed to host the conversation, said Mike Jazayeri, Google Talk product manager. However, Google hopes to extend this functionality so that voice chats can happen within the gadget interface, he said.
The gadget has some features the PC application lacks, like the ability to organize multiple text chats with tabs and to share and watch photos and videos within the Talk interface from Google's Picasa photo manager and YouTube video site, he said. When asked if the Talk application will gain these features, he declined to comment.
Conversely, the gadget lacks some of the PC application's features, including the ability to transfer files and the voicemail functionality.
This isn't the first time Talk has been available in a format other than the downloadable application's interface. For example, last year, Google integrated Talk with the Gmail Webmail service. Likewise, thanks to Talk's open architecture, third-party developers have created mobile, Web and PC interfaces for the instant-messaging service.
Like most consumer instant-messaging services, Google Talk is free. It is growing in popularity, although it hasn't caught up with competitors like AOL's AIM, Microsoft's Live Messenger and Yahoo's Yahoo Messenger, Radicati Group analyst Matthew Anderson said via e-mail.