For years Hotmail and Yahoo Mail have showed the connection status of your Messenger buddies in the web mail interface. A simple icon depicts whether they are online or not, and a simple click can launch a chat window or do other things. Google has taken that idea one step further, enabling conversations to take place inside the browser itself:
Google on Monday was set to launch Gmail Chat, which will let users send instant messages with one click from their e-mail account, see when contacts are online and save the chat history like an e-mail message.
The application’s Quick Contacts list is synchronized with a user’s Google Talk friends list and automatically displays the people a user communicates with most frequently and shows their online status. Clicking on a contact listed as being online opens a chat window in the browsers.
I think this new Chat feature will be played up as “Google innovating in the email space yet again” when really, it’s a poor man’s version of MSN’s Web Messenger. I mean, when you cut through the crap (read: beta label) that’s all it is! And even then, a web messenger is really only useful if you’re on a public computer or something.
Considering I don’t use Google Talk, this new feature is pretty much useless for me.
Read: CNET News.com