Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Google Talk gives iPhone users a free messaging alternative

Google has pushed out a new version of its Google Talk service for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch owners designed the service to work solely through Safari, so there are no software downloads that need to be installed.

According to a blog post late yesterday from Google mobile team software engineer Adam Connors, interested iPhone users simply head to, sign in, start chatting with friends.

"We've tried to keep the design as faithful to the desktop experience as possible, so it should be familiar to you," Connors wrote. "You can select from a quicklist of the people you contact most, search your contacts, and manage multiple conversations."

Users must keep the service running using Safari, and if they open another application or Internet browser, their Google Talk status will be changed to "unavailable" until the user reopens Safari. Aside from the "unavailable" setting when a user closes the Safari browser, all of the new version's features are identical to the original desktop version.

AT&T subscribers looking to save a few extra dollars per month could combine GTalk and the integrated free AOL Instant Messenger client to chat with friends rather than pay for the AT&T SMS plan. AT&T will offer iPhone users SMS messaging plans at $5 for 200 messages per month, $15 for 1,500 messages per month, and $20 per month for unlimited texting. Other new IM programs will be released next week through the iPhone Apps Store. Meanwhile, Google Talk is free.

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