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Google Talk for BlackBerry Review

CrackBerry Idol - David S.
By Kevin Michaluk on 6 Jul 2010 10:21 pm EDT
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Review of Google Talk for BlackBerry Smartphones

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.

Overview

Google Talk for BlackBerry Review

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.

Google Talk for BlackBerry Review


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.

Google Talk for BlackBerry Review

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).

Conclusion

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. **

Reader comments

Google Talk for BlackBerry Review

21 Comments

Kevin (aka Ryan Seacrest): We have three David's in this competition... David L, David S and Dave P. You gave us a good look at Google Talk here David S, now let's see what the judges thought!

CrackBerry Idol Judges

Dieter: Slow down, dawg! Your video felt a little rushed and out of breath. Your review presents a solid overview of the app and your conclusion is really solid. There are touches of really nice writing here too "simple, but all too recognizable, style."

Georgia: Hi David, the video felt a bit short, this is not about the actual length but that I felt that it did not cover the application fully. I felt that you were rushing through the video. Slow down your pace and take your time on each of the features, by the time I go myself situated on a feature and you were already moving to the next. That being said, your voice has a nice tone and clarity to it. I really enjoyed reading your written review, it was very concise and gave me a better feel for the application than the video. Thanks.

Craig: David this video review was too short. You skipped over too many things like the settings for the app (which allow you to group people, ect.), and you skipped things like group chat. Your written review was a good size, but seemed to contain little content. For example how was your experience with the app, etc. You are going to have to beef up these reviews.

Nice job David! I agree with the pros that your video is a bit rushed, but your written review is well done and you do have a great voice for this. Just slow it down a bit! :)

As for Google Talk, I still haven't figured out what to do with it. I downloaded it a week ago and all it has done is cause two random resets and I haven't even actually used it yet because I have no clue why I need/want it. Maybe if I watch your video and read your review again I'll get some ideas...lol!

I really appreciate the positive feedback! Thanks for the advice on the video, this is all still a learning experience for me. Honestly, I feel Google Talk is best used to message people with Android phones. Personally I don't have an unlimited text messaging plan, so it's nice being able to use Google Talk with my buddies on Android. Thanks again!

To SMS when chatting with Android users. Basically, this is what I use instead of BBM for my friends with Android phones. What's nice is that you can receive messages on your handheld and desktop application at the same time.

It's great for talking to all the non berry peeps, unless they have an iPhone, you have to keep safari open or else it does not work.

I use google talk 24/7 (except when battery pulling =P) and I never really understood how file transfer worked until I watched your video and read through your review! Thank you for that. =)

I'd have to agree with the judges in that you should have looked at the settings closely. You could talk about the chat history, grouping messsages and contacts, etc under settings.

One thing many people overlook in IM clients is the ability to sign out without opening the app. I know it isn't much but I think these small features make blackberry, well blackberry! By pressing the bb button when highlighting google talk, you have the option to sign out which saves a click. Not much, but I think its pretty cool. =P

Keep up the good work!

May be gtalk is not very popular in your countries, but its very much used in my country...my office also uses it.I can chat with the girl I love all day long thanx to Gtalk... The Gtalk for BlackBerry is the second reason why I bought a BlackBerry (First reason is obviously email )

One of the things I like about Google Talk is the ability to communicate (via text) instantly with anyone using the application on their PC. We use it in our office and I can walk out the door and continue to use it in my BlackBerry. I can't tell you how many times it has come in handy to send a message directly from my BlackBerry to the desktop of one of my guys(and vice versa). I love BBM but this is one thing it cannot do. We used to use Windows Messenger but it would not allow me to be logged on two places at once (this may have changed) but Google Talk does. When I get a message I can choose to respond via PC or my BlackBerry if I'm sitting at my desk. Anyway it's a nice feature that seemed to be overlooked in this review.

It's actually really funny, while recording the video I had my GMail open, and kept getting messages. So I had to re-record the video, so people wouldn't hear the Google Chat as a background noise. I would have to admit, that's something that I could've added, but at the time decided to leave out. I tried to stay focus on how it functioned on BlackBerries, but that would've been a nice thing to mention. Thanks for the tip, I still hope you enjoyed the review!
-David S

I do have to agree that the video did feel rushed, and some things were left out (settings, the ability to log out without opening the app). Other than that, not bad...

"all-too-recognizable" indicates familiar in a negative sense, and yet the rest of your review was generally positive. From that initial sentence I expected to hear some criticism of the interface, but then you went on to say it was appealing and easy to use. Not a big deal, but a bit of a mixed message. (Also, minor English nerd quibble - it should have had hyphens :D)

One major feature not written about was the fact that it integrates with your Inbox the same as BBM -- ongoing conversations are (optionally) displayed as messages in your inbox.

Other than that, this was well done. (Speaking of the text only - I don't tend to look at videos, reading is much faster.)

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Free SSH for Blackberry - your help needed in testing: http://bbssh.org/

Overall, I really didn't know how to feel about Google Talk. In itself it's a good messenger, but it's pretty basic and straight forward. So even though I did like it, I wasn't WOWed by it. That's why I changed tones the way I did. Thanks for the grammar tip, I've honestly never used that phrase before, and spell check didn't suggest anything. Other than that I'm glad you enjoyed the review (it was my first!), and thanks for the comment!
-David S

BBM is the best instant messenger that I have used. BUT it has a major flaw, it only works with other BB. This was OK a year ago, but many of my friends that had BB have moved on to other platforms. And as more of my friends get their 1st smartphone... well they don't seem to be going for BB either. So an instant messenger that only works on one platform, just isn't that appealing anymore.

Google Talk is what I chose to use for those non-berry users I need to stay in contact with, and I have found that I use it most of the time now.

I use Google Talk to connect with only a couple of friends, and they both use an Android phone. One shortcoming I've noticed is the emoticons do not cross platforms. I'll select a smiley face, for example :) and the emoticon is illustrated on my phone, but it won't illustrate on their phone unless it contains the nose. :-) The emoticon list on each platform is completely different and they do not use the same language.

Another aspect that annoys me about this messenger (and the review mentions it briefly) is the inability to send images. I don't bother using this app with anyone who owns a Blackberry (why would I?) so I wouldn't know if it was possible to transfer an image with them, however, Yahoo Messenger does allow this. I can transfer an image file to any contact in my Yahoo Messenger whether they're on a desktop or a mobile device. So, Google Talk has always seemed very weak on the Blackberry. Google Talk is much more dynamic and useful if you're using it on an Android device.

A useful review educates the audience with more than just the basics of an app. This is the new and complex world of smartphones and mobile devices, and some apps are more useful than others for so many reasons.

This review would not be of much use to me. I would still have to rely on what would be my future experience with this app to determine what I have already figured out for myself (explained above) and that leads me to question how experienced the reviewer was when he wrote this review. If I know the author is going to dig deep into the program and save me the time of discovering its pros and cons, I'm that much more likely to continue reading his/her column and potentially purchase the product.

I also use Google Talk to talk with friends using Android, and one friend that's on WinMo. In my experience not ALL the emoticons transfer over. I've sent ":)" and the receiver (using an Android phone) received it as an emoticon, but in other cases (i.e :D) didn't. In response to your comment about the content of my review. We were given a recommended length, and my goal was to be in between that (both for the written and video). As a Computer Engineering major I'm very accustomed to writing very technical write ups, and writing an application review is a lot different. I had to be able to appeal to the general public, but at the same time adhere to those that are more technical. If I was to write a technical review, and focused on hard facts, I'm sure others would have penalized me for that. In between there is a compromise, and I should've added a section that would have made the more tech savvy happy. Other commentators mentioned that the review in fact did point out a few things they hadn't known, so I'm pleased I was able to help some. I'm sorry this review wasn't "your cup of tea", but it was my first time writing a review, and I will only learn from my mistakes. Thank you for your constructive criticism, and advice!
-David S

My google talk app keeps logging me out. Is there a setting to change this? Or is it simply because it hits idle mode??

Thanks in advance if anyone can help.