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Google Hangouts (still called Google Talk or GTalk by so many people) is an innovative instant messaging service enabling the ability to send files, messages as well as enabling the user to make and receive VoIP calls. In developing Google Hangouts a key aim for the software was ‘interoperability’.


This aim is achieved through Google Talk being developed through use of a XMPP open protocol. The result of a development based on XMPP is that any device which supports this protocol can be used to connect to Google Hangouts. The software can be fully integrated into an existing Gmail account. This integration enables IM’s to be relayed to existing Gmail contacts in a seamless fashion. Known by many who use it as ‘Gchat’ the client which was released in 2005 has proved to be an essential asset to an ever growing market of personal and business communications.

A fantastic integration with the Gmail service provides an excellent platform for online multitasking. IM’s and files can be sent to Gmail contacts, this combined with enabling desktop notifications on the Google Chrome browser allows for a truly unique communication system seamlessly integrating instant chat message and an existing email client together. Google Talk provides the ability to hold a group chat, whether catching up with friends or collaborating with colleagues on a business project, real time integrated instant messaging can bring people all over the world into the same room.
In an age where life is constantly on the move, Google Hangouts’s presence as a mobile platform pre-installed on many Android smartphones provides a fantastic means of communication ‘on the move’ without using up text message allowances. The VoIP feature of Google Talk utilises contact lists from Gmail, allowing for phone calls to be made all through the same client without the need for many programs.


Google Hangouts is not without its faults though and is often criticised for its more basic approach to instant messaging. Some alternatives are offered here which are competing to be high quality opponents to the Google Talk client. Miranda IM is a great alternative for the Windows user, it allows the combination of many social communication accounts into one piece of software. Miranda IM is perfect for bringing together Google Hangouts, AIM, ICQ and Facebook conversations all into one client. is both an interesting alternative aimed at both Windows and Mac users, this free-to-use app is perfect for combining Google Hangouts and Facebook contacts into a single window with the ability to send both messages and SMS messages from the same client. If you find yourself networking with colleagues all over the world, Pidgin is a fantastic Windows app which combines contacts from over 10 different social communication networks from Google Talk to AIM all in one place.


Google Talk has enjoyed a fantastic run as one of the leaders in online communications. From personal to business contacts, the client acts as a basic service while providing a high quality platform to send messages and files in conjunction with a high quality VoIP service. The future of Google Talk looks to expand even further as it merges with Google Messenger and Hangouts. It is clear that Google has strong aims in integrating its services together and with the increasing popularity of Google+ GoogleTalk will have an instrumental role connecting Google’s other communication facilities to produce a leading social network with fully integrated chat support in contacting existing contacts through the Gmail and Google+ services. While Google Talk has changed immensely from its initial foundations, there will always be a place for the principles of ‘interoperability’ that Google strived for in initially developing the communication client.


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