Google announced Thursday that it has developed a new Web app version of Gtalk for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Just point Safari to http://www.google.com/talk and you’ll be launched into a much improved, albeit stripped down, interface. From there you can view contacts, send instant messages, update your status, and “go off the record” if you don’t want to store your chats in Gmail.
That’s fine and dandy. But in all honesty, Gtalk users — and users of any chat service — have wanted native chat clients for the iPhone since it debuted a little more than a year ago. More importantly, they don’t want to lose a chat connection when they switch from chat to answer the phone, to send a Tweet on Twitter, or browse the Web using Safari.
This is due to the fact that the iPhone cannot run more than one application at once, other than playing the iPod. Running more than one app at once also drains the battery.
Even so, many iPhone users have hoped that Apple will have solved this dilemma with the upcoming release of the iPhone 3G. For months they’ve been holding out that native chat applications are coming once the App Store opens in a week or two.
But is the new Gtalk Web app an indication that a dedicated client isn’t coming anytime soon — not just for Google Talk but for other chat services on the iPhone? Why would Google spend the time, money, and energy revamping its Web-based chat app if a native client is coming out in a week or two?
As it stands now, the new Gtalk Web app could be the slickest, greatest, most unbelievable chat solution for the iPhone and it still would be pretty useless. Nothing is more frustrating than engaging in a chat, answering the phone, losing the chat connection, then having to log in to chat all over again.
Do this more than a couple of times and you give up. No matter how good Gtalk for the iPhone is.