With Google Talk, users can use a Webcam to take a picture of themselves and post on their contact list.

© Malek Chaman/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Problems with Google Talk

Google Talk offers some great features, but it has some problems and limitations, too. For instance, Google Talk messaging can only be done with other Google Talk and Gmail users. Beyond that, you have to download Google Talk and also have a Gmail account to get features such as chat history and offline chats.

Even then, available features are more limited than those offered by Yahoo Messenger and  other instant messaging services. And Google Talk features are more limited on the Web-based Google Talk Gadget, which is the only version available to Mac and mobile users.

Google Talk is no different from providers like Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger in keeping IMing among its registered users. (Although Yahoo and Windows users can now IM with each other.) And Google Talk offers many of the same features as AIM, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

Because Google Talk is newer than these services, Google has had less time to expand its features. But something new is being added all the time. For instance, you can now show your contacts the music you're listening to at that moment. Any time your music player starts a new song the track name and artist information are updated. And you can check out what Google Talk users are listening to around the world.

With Google Talk Gadget, you also can use your Webcam to take a picture of yourself and then post it at the top of your friends list. Your friends will see the picture as your Google Talk picture in their contacts lists.

One of the best places to learn about new features is at Google Talkabout, a blog where Google developers share the latest news about Google Talk. You can give your feedback while you're there, or seek answers from other users or join in with the Google Talk Help discussion group.

We've given you information here about Google Talk and its features, but Google Talk is continuously evolving. For lots more information about GoogleTalk and related topics, check out the links on the next page.