New Google greats

Matthew Wade evaluates the search giant Google's latest and greatest ‘Labs' software releases.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  July 12, 2008

Matthew Wade evaluates the search giant's latest and greatest ‘Labs' software releases, detailing which four programs you should try and why.

Google Labs showcases the firm's applications-in-development, giving enthusiastic surfers the chance to download and try these services in advance, and Google the opportunity to garner some valuable pre-launch feedback from you.

Your starting point is http://labs.google.com/. Once there, try these...

1. Google Talk Labs Edition

Gmail subscribers will be pleased to know that Google Talk has been given a somewhat overdue facelift.

In addition to some lighter, whiter, Mac-like design tweaks, the biggest new feature on offer is Group Chat - bringing the Google IM app's new functionality into line with its Live, Yahoo!, and other IRC competitors.

Even better in our opinion, current chats are now shown in a new tab within the Google Talk dialog box, rather than being shown in separate floating chat windows. This is a big plus for those who don't like windows popping out all over the screen.

Right-clicking the Google Talk icon in the taskbar also brings up new options: you can open Google Calendar (online), Orkut (a social networking site Google bought out, but which is sadly blocked in the UAE), and disable notifications for an hour (if, say, you are showing a colleague things on-screen).

Verdict: Super-slick. The Group Chat feature alone makes it worth the download for Gmail users. Our only slight niggle is that you can't right-click the Talk taskbar icon to check for new messages.

Requirements: Windows XP/ Vista

Download size: 340k (Note: Google Talk - original edition - must be uninstalled separately)

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