As other instant messenger services fade into the background (sorry, AIM!), Google Talk is emerging as a leader, thanks to ubiquity of Gmail. But the iPhone is increasingly becoming the means by which those Gmail users access the Internet, so staying connected to GTalk is an increasing priority.
We rounded up five of the best third-party apps that run Google Talk for iPhone. All of them have several features people have come to expect from desktop clients, and they integrate smoothly into the mobile experience so you can keep chatting while you're on the go. We found it was most important for an application to notify you about new messages via push notifications. As a bonus, all of these apps will work with other chat protocols as well, so you'll also be able to use Facebook, AIM, Yahoo or other messengers on your iPhone.
Price: $9.99 for full version.
This full-featured instant messaging app may look costly, but for those who frequently chat on their phone, it's worth it. Not only is it compatible with Google Talk, BeeJive works with almost every chat protocol you could imagine, including AIM, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger. It will send push notifications to your phone up to 24 after you've signed in, and there are lots of options to customize how your messages look.
It's also probably the quickest to load and most responsive of the messaging apps we tested. It was easy to swipe between open conversations with several people, and it organizes all your current conversations into one screen. It also supports sending and receiving photos, and has a built-in web browser for links.
There is a free version of Beejive for Google Talk, but it only supports one account at a time.
eBuddy is another multi-protocol that's been on the iTunes store for quite a while. It can send you push notifications for up to 12 hours for messages, though a premium upgrade will extend that feature to seven days. It has customizable backgrounds and cool color schemes as well. You can also easily flip into landscape mode for faster typing.
Price: Free and $9.99 for Pro
IM+ was one of the nicest interfaces of all the apps we tried. It has some neat features, like the ability to store entire chat logs of your conversations. Its web browser is one of the most seamlessly integrated.
While the free version has ads, you can remove them for $3.99. The pro version has no ads, and even more features. Any version also works with the iPad, and you can sync all your preferences on each via iCloud.
Imo offers many of the same features as the other apps listed in a reliable package. In addition, it has a voice message feature that allows you to record and send short messages to other users.
It was also Mashable's "Most Useful Mobile App" of 2011 in the Mashable Awards.
Verbs is a very slick-looking chat app with a group of unique features we haven't seen on the competitors. It syncs your Google Chat contacts with their entries in your iPhone's address book. It allows you to save links received via message to your Instapaper account from the chat window. It also allows you to export your chat history into an email, though that might be a bit redundant for Google Talk, which by default stores your chats in your email account.
See any cool apps we missed? Please be sure to let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy eBuddy.