With the popularity of Google Mail on BlackBerries, it comes as no surprise that Google would introduce an instant messaging service to the BlackBerry. Since instant messaging isn't anything new for BlackBerry, and the overly popular BlackBerry Messenger is prevalent among users, Google makes its own attempt with Google Talk. The application isn't really anything more than a simple instant messenger, but it has a very interesting Google-esque style. With all the available platforms on the market (Blackberry, Andriod, Apple, Win Mo, etc.), many applications have tried to bridge the messaging gap. Google Talk successfully allows users to chat to their Gmail friends across multiple platforms in a simple, but all too recognizable, style.
The simple interface of Google Talk makes it very appealing and easy to use. The log-in page simply asks for your Gmail username and password and provides the options to save your password and enable automatic sign in. Automatic sign in is a nice subtle feature, especially if you're someone who's constantly doing battery pulls or restarts. Once logged in, navigation is straightforward and similar to that of most other messengers. Starting from the top, your username is shown, accompanied by your status and picture. Next, users can see open chats, followed by a friends list. At the very bottom there will be a section for friend invitations, but, when there aren't any invites, the section isn't shown.
The friends list shows your added Gmail contacts, with their status (online, offline, idle), and if they or you added a picture to detailed information. At the top of your friends list is a button for adding contacts. It opens a new window where all a user needs to do is input the username/email and select OK. The chats section shows all open conversations. In the main screen, you can see the last message sent between you and your contact, as well as their connected status, name, and picture. At the top of an opened conversation, you are again shown their status, as well as given their picture and name. During the conversation, the names are separated by respective colors, and each message is time-stamped. At the bottom, you're given space to input text, and, if more space is required, the area enlarges accordingly. To the right of your input is an emoticon icon, opening a selection of 16 commonly used emoticons.
Since Google Talk integrates well with the features of BlackBerries, it's easy to send pictures and e-mails to the users in your friends list. The additional features in Google Talk aren't lacking and bring together useful functions. The simplest of those is sending an e-mail, which is easily done by choosing the recipient, and selecting that option from your menu key. Sending pictures is done in a manner similar to that of most applications, but these images can only be received by other BlackBerry users. However, it's equivalently convenient to select users of other platforms and communicate with them via e-mail (or MMS and SMS if they're linked to a contact on your phone).
Google, in partnership with RIM, introduced a messenger that complements their Google Mail service. With no apparent effort to reinvent the instant messenger wheel, Google Talk gives BlackBerry users a solid way of communicating across platforms. With common functions and a simple but effective interface, the messenger provides users an enjoyable experience. With fun features like adding a contact to your homepage and aesthetically-pleasing emoticons, Google Talk is a fun messenger that allows BlackBerry users to talk to their friends. If you're someone who prefers not use your SMS and instead enjoy a messenger, this might just be for you. Unfortunately, advanced features aren't Google Talk's strong point. The messenger only allows BlackBerries to send pictures to other BlackBerry users, which was already possible on BlackBerry Messenger. Sending files can be a struggle, and overall performance is sometimes a bit slow on messaging. Finally, if you're someone looking to find a messenger to talk to your friends on another platform, Google Talk is for you. However, for messaging users on BlackBerry, stick to BlackBerry Messenger.
** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **