Google TalkGoogle has been busy updating some of its gadgets that users can put on their Personalized Homepage. The first one to get updated was the Google Talk gadget which received its first update since launch. Here is a list of what’s new in the gadget:

  • You can now pop out the gadget into a separate, small window anytime. This way you can navigate to other websites and still keep your contact list and chats open. And just like running the gadget on your homepage, this way of using Google Talk is completely web-based, and requires no download.
  • You can also add a button to your site so your visitors can pop out the Google Talk Gadget when they visit your page. If you want them to chat with you, just list your username next to the button and ask visitors to sign in and add you as a contact. Click the button for an example of the gadget that pops out:
  • In addition to viewing YouTube videos and Picasa Web Albums, you can now also watch Flickr slideshows in your chats as seen in the screenshot. Just paste in the URL to the Flickr Album you want to appear and the Google Talk gadget will do the rest!

I am really impressed with the features Google has added to the Google Talk gadget, but I am also disappointed that the Web version actually has features (such as the Flickr and YouTube integration) that even the desktop version doesn’t have. Sure the desktop application is needed if you want to share files or call friends, but I always expect that a desktop application would do everything a Web version can plus more.

Google ReaderGoogle also added some much needed updates to their Google Reader gadget today. Here is what’s new:

  • A “mark all as read” link so you can more easily catch up
  • Unread counts for your reading list and tags
  • Better support for themes
  • The ability to sort items oldest-first

These updates were definitely necessary since I like using this gadget to keep up on some of my news. One thing that I would still like to see Google do is let users customize the size of the gadgets. In the options for the Google Reader gadget you can have it show up to 10 items at a time, but for some people who have larger monitors they may like to see more than that.

I’m very happy that the Google team is going back to refine the tools and services that they have already released, instead of trying to break into new markets that are already well established by other companies. Google has enough existing services that they should be able to become a leader in many different areas as long as they continue to update and improve their services.