Maverick puts Google Talk on Android G1

The chat application Maverick enhances Google Talk with plenty of multimedia features.

Maverick for Google Android.

I won't lie. It feels good getting a G1 Google Android phone in my hands. It's also a little paralyzing: so many new apps to explore, a new interface to learn; where to start? The free Google Talk app Maverick is as good as any. Admittedly, the G1 dutifully hosts individual IM clients for AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, and of course, Google Talk. The difference is that Maverick adds some panache and pizazz by layering in multimedia capabilities, like sending photos, scribbles, your GPS location, emoticons, and snippets of text.

Maverick chat app for Google Android
An example of Maverick's multimedia chat capabilities. (Credit: Google)

It's a fun idea that pans out, though I'm sure it also confused my contacts, who weren't expecting to see my mapped location, a photo of my hand, and a horribly doodled smiley face, which, incidentally, was auto-saved in an unlisted folder on my Picasa Web account.

Those of you who are used to the iPhone's brand of touch screen may find apps like Maverick hard to pick up at first, because it relies on a combination of key pad and touch navigation to access the menus. However, fluency is easily achieved, once you remember to press the G1's Menu button to launch your multimedia effects, the back arrow to cancel a move, and the trackball to take a photo.

Here are a few more details that are good to know: You can scroll through your contact list by swiping the screen, but it's not the easiest method for seeing who's online. You'll also be able to see when new e-mail hits your Gmail account, from a slim ticker strip on the top of the app. There are only three emoticons in the list. Maverick is a dark app, whereas the native Google Talk is light, but I didn't see any skins for changing the layout or look.

Maverick saved a doodle to my Picasa Web album
Maverick saved a doodle to my Picasa Web album. (Credit: CNET)

While I love the multimedia concept, I generally prefer the visuals of how Google Talk chats are displayed. Finally, Maverick doesn't appear to be equipped for switching between two conversations. I'm a fan of tabs, myself.

Still, Maverick is a perfect example of how Google's Android platform lets developers go crazy with all of Google's properties, and the phone's. It pulls in GPS, the camera, maps, and Google's Picasa Web Albums to take IMing on Google past the basics.

Of course, this app will see a lot of competition from other applications that will add more powerful IMing features, like multinetwork IMs, texting, possible voice text, and different ways to handle multiple conversations. In the meantime, it's a step up from using the default Android service.

Read more about Google Android on CNET, including a video review of the T-Mobile G1.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.