Thursday, February 23, 2006

The true utility of Google Talk / Gmail integration

Google recently integrated Google Talk (their IM client) with Gmail (their email service). (More info on this is available in this Official Google Blog Post). Now, when you open a browser window with your Gmail inbox, a Google Talk widget with your "buddy list" appears in the window. You can also chat directly in the Gmail browser window in "popup panes" that appear in that window.

At first, I wasn't sure about the utility of this new feature. The thing that made Google itself take off at first a few years back, aside from the generally excellent quality of their search results, is the fact that the search page presented a really clean interface -- the Google logo, a text field, a "Search" button, and not much else. This integration of Google Talk into the Gmail window makes the Gmail interface seem rather more cluttered. I'm happy to just use the separate Google Talk desktop app.

However, the Google Talk / Gmail integration has enabled me to do something I've haven't been able to do before -- chat with my wife Missy at work!

Missy works at a large corporation where all individual workstations are heavily locked down security-wise. Users cannot install new software of any kind without IT intervention, and most ports on the external firewall are closed, so Missy has never been able to get any IM application to work on her work machine, including the Google Talk desktop app.

However, at least so far, the Google Talk client integrated into the Gmail browser window works just fine! It's in the browser window so there's nothing to copy onto the local machine, and whatever port the app is using to communicate is apparently not blocked.

So the Gmail-integrated Google Talk has at least allowed Missy and I to chat via IM during the day, which is pretty cool. Even though email and phone were both available to us before, IM just provides another way for us to stay in touch while we're apart, which is a good thing! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Gtalk via Gmail just piggy backs on Gmail's HTTPS connection. Then the Gmail server connects to the Gtalk server.

    So pretty much all it looks like (from the firewall's point of view) is encrypted HTTP traffic, just like other secure websites.


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