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Google's 'people widget' reminds you who you're emailing with

May 26, 2011 |  4:01 pm

Gmail Say what you want about Google, but the tech giant never tires of trying to improve its email program.  

The company keeps Gmail perpetually under construction: building in a chat function; offering a view of users' calendar and contact lists; and adding functions that allow users to send text messages, make phone and video calls, unsend messages, watch YouTube videos and do about a hundred other things.

This results in the frequent addition of interesting new features like those above, and the even more frequent addition of dubious non-features. Think Buzz, Email Addict, and Priority Inbox

But you gotta crack a few eggs, right? 

The latest experimental email ingredient is what Google is calling the "people widget" -- a kind of mini-social networking profile that pops up beside email messages to give you a dossier on whoever you're emailing.  The widget reminds you about recent conversations you've had with the person, whether you have any upcoming hangout appointments with them, whether they're online right now, and other stuff you might or might not want to know.

"The people widget surfaces content from friends, family and colleagues that is already available to you but may be hard to find and makes it easier to connect with them," Google said in a blog post announcing the feature.

The service is rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

RELATED: 

Google lets you make phone calls from Gmail

Google Buzz poses a major privacy risk for kids, analyst says

Gmail missing e-mails, login problems, continue into fourth day

-- David Sarno

Image credit: Google Inc.

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