As the battle rages on between instant messaging behemoths like AOL Instant Messenger and Windows Live Messenger, Google is slowly adding functionality to its GTalk instant messaging effort. The company has updated the "testing" version of GTalk with three new features: voice mail, file transfers, and an option to display a user's current music selection. The voice mail option works by simply sending an e-mail with an embedded audio file, and the "Music Status" option automatically queries music players like Winamp and iTunes to share track names.
While these features show promise, GTalk still lacks functionality like text styling, smiley icons, and video chat, which competing instant messaging clients from AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo now offer. This sparseness has likely contributed to GTalk's slow adoption rate: only around 44,000 users in the United States used GTalk last month, considerably less than the 46.5 million and 22.9 million that used AOL and Microsoft's IM clients, respectively. In order to become more popular, Ars Technica reckons GTalk needs to follow the competition more closely, offer corporate-friendly features, and develop its support for mobile devices that already includes the Blackberry.
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