Google has released a new module to use on its personalized homepage that retains the look and feel of its Windows-only installable chat application, Google Talk. What's interesting is that the Web-based version ends up having a few extra features you don't get with the desktop client. For instance, starting a conversation with a contact creates a new tab on the top of the interface. You can jump through these like tabs on a Web browser. It's far better system than the Google Talk application, which uses expandable horizontal bars like Microsoft Outlook.
There's also a neat new feature that lets you view Picasa albums as well asYouTube videos right inside the chat window, simply by inserting the URL. Interestingly enough, for videos it uses a semitransparent control interface that looks like something you'd find on OS X's Dashboard instead of YouTube's somewhat dated metallic player. I'd be interested to see if it makes its way into YouTube (assuming there still is a YouTube) in the near future.
Google has had a Web-based version of their chat client within Gmail since last June. This new module is coded in Flash, whereas the Gmail one is HTML. Fittingly, the new one is flashier and much more responsive. Despite this, I'd still like to see Google let you 'pop' it out to be placed on the desktop, something you can do with Meebo and conversations in Gmail's chat. Windows Vista users can use Amnesty Generator (review) to put it on their sidebar.
The only drawbacks thus far are a four tabs at-a-time limit, reliance on the Windows app for the call feature, and less customizable interface. Expect those things to be fixed in later versions.
Google has done a short video overview, which I've embedded in this post. In the meantime, you can grab the module here.
[Found on The Google Blog]