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Mar 3, 09 - 7:12 am

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Instant Messaging

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Google’s latest enhancement to its user-customizable iGoogle site is the ability to conduct Gmail chats from within iGoogle. The new feature means you can do more on the iGoogle site without having multiple windows open.

I am fond of Gmail’s chat feature. I feed my AIM account through it, and can pretty much tackle all of my instant messaging needs from within Gmail itself rather than opening another application for chatting. I am not a regular user of iGoogle, but I can see the utility in its newest feature.

Chat can be added as another widget to the iGoogle home page via the settings menu. Google says that it works identically to the regular Gmail chat feature. All settings for Gmail chat will apply to the iGoogle version.

Google also says that Gmail users will be able to chat with anyone they wish — Gmail user or not — by inviting them to be a chat buddy. Once they accept, they’ll appear in the user’s buddy list. They will have to sign up for an iGoogle account, however. The chat feature also can be hidden from view if you’re the type who’s easily distracted, and users can sign out of chat without signing out of iGoogle if they prefer not to be bothered.

Apparently Google had been testing this feature out internally and with a small set of users. Today, chatting from within iGoogle is being offered to a much larger group of users.

Of course, it’s a trial version of the service. Google’s Rhett Robinson writes:

“It’s worth noting that this feature may have some kinks, so we ask for your patience as we work through them. Here at Google, it’s common practice for us to involve our users as early possible so we can make sure we get it right. We’ll also be rolling this feature out slowly, so if you don’t see it on your iGoogle page and you simply can’t wait to check it out, feel free to opt in by going to”

Right now, iGoogle chat will only work in English for users in the United States, but Google says it will support other languages and countries in the near future.

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