Just when you thought the Internet had its fill of instant messaging clients, along came Google Talk. Introduced in 2005, Google Talk is an application that lets users send messages to each other. Unlike Gmail, the Google Talk client isn't entirely Web-based. Users must first download an application to their own computers in order to access its full set of features.
Those features go beyond simple messages. You can send unlimited files -- of unlimited size -- to other users. Just remember that if you choose to send someone a big file, it's going to take a while to transfer to the other user, especially over slower connections. Also, if you have a cap on how much data you can transfer over your network, you might face some hefty fees from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Google Talk is also a voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) client. That means you can make PC-to-PC calls to other Google Talk users. You and your contact will both need microphones and speakers, but Google Talk handles the rest. Real-time voice transmission can take up a lot of bandwidth. Just like file transfers, you might risk going over your data cap with your ISP if you use this feature a lot.
Users can also download the Google Talk Gadget, a Web-based application that allows users to access many (but not all) Google Talk functions from a personal Web site like a blog or an iGoogle page. That means you can use any computer connected to the Internet to navigate to the right site and use Google Talk. Right now, using a Google Talk Gadget is the easiest way Mac owners can access any of Google Talk's features.
That pretty much covers communication. What else can Google organize? How about Internet shopping? Read all about the Google Checkout service in the next section.