Google Talk's birthday present: An upgrade

Now we are one
Written by Elinor Mills, Contributor

Now we are one

Google Talk, which is celebrating its first birthday with an upgrade, will let people easily transfer files and leave other people voicemail from today.

Now people who use the instant messaging and voice chat service will be able to click a 'send file' button, choose which document, photo or other file to send, and transmit it through a chat window as a thumbnail that can be displayed in full size.

People also can leave each other voicemail by either initiating a call that is then unanswered or without initiating a call and going straight into voicemail. Users of Gmail, Google's email service, can play the voicemail without having to download anything. But people who use other email software will have to download the MP3 voicemail attachment to hear it.

Another new feature allows Google Talk users to indicate to their friends what music they are listening to via their status message. The new features will initially be available only in the English language version.

Google Talk is a key piece of the search giant's strategy to make it easy for people not only to search for any kind of information in any location, but also to communicate with each other in various ways online.

Mike Jazayeri, a Google Talk product manager, said: "We are investing in a real-time communications platform. Google Talk is the first instance of that."

Google Talk competes with popular chat applications from AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Last month, Yahoo! opened its latest Yahoo Messenger with Voice, with nearly 200 plug-ins, to the public. Microsoft publicly launched its new Windows Live Messenger in June and added drag-and-drop file sharing and automatic contact updating.

As part of a $1bn Google investment for a five per cent stake in AOL, Google and AOL will make their chat services interoperate. Jazayeri said he could not provide a time line for when that might happen. Google is already interoperable with services that use the open XMPP, or 'Jabber', chat standard, he said.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! and Microsoft made their chat services interoperable last month.

Elinor Mills writes for CNET News.com

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