Smile on GTalk, Aminated Style
Google has pushed another new feature to its email offering, GMail, that brings it closer to a complete online desktop suit. The latest change adds support for animated emoticons in the instant messaging application in GMail called GTalk. Such feature existed in MSN Messenger for a long time, but it only made its official appearance in GMail today. While it is true that GTalk converted certain sequences into smileys for a long time, there never was a GUI or a list of possible emoticons to use. Moreover the latest update adds the possibility to pick the style of the emoticons.
I think that such an addition was not required, but it might help others to figure out what emoticons are available. When I write messages, I directly type in the sequence without having to look it up in a table. Also the sequence resembles the emoticon in reality, so what is the need for the table? Instead I think Google should figure out the common sequences by examining online chatroom and other media, and automatically convert those. For example, many people use T_T or :'( to represent crying or =_=” or :@ to represent anger. Such behavior is very common, so why instead of dictating what to use with a little selection tool, just automatically detect common phrases. Of course, still provide a table (available here) with the list of common emoticons so those new to IMing know what to do.
I really like the themes created by the Google artists, especially the simplistic default theme. My favourite aspect of them is their animation that works as following:
- Sequence converted into image, still shown as text
- The mouth part converts into a flat line, so it looks like this 😐
- The text starts to rotate into the natural position
- The flat line become the original smile again.
I like this because it is a very smooth transition from text into image. The same idea happens with the other themes, but at the end a yellow circle also enlarges around the face.Also let’s not forget the mandatory screenshot showcasing the new feature. It shows two out of three possible themes for the emoticons, which can be selected by clicking he blue happy bubble in the bottom right corner.
What do I think would be the next step? Implement emoticons in emails! KMail already does this, so why can’t GMail? It is not hard to quickly convert every occurrence of the sequence for a smile into a animated GIF.