Gmail’s latest Labs experiment adds an option to send SMS text messages to contacts from the Google Chat sidebar, at no cost and with replies arriving as new chat lines. Like other Labs, you’ll have to enable it by heading to the Labs icon in your Gmail settings and enabling “Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat,” although the feature is apparently being rolled out gradually to users. Once enabled, you can type and choose a contact from the Chat sidebar and select “Send SMS” from the options that pop up to the right of their name, or select “Video & more” from the options dialog on a chat window. Enter a phone number, type your chat, and Google tells the recipient that they can reply like any other text. Gmail’s definitely making a play to become your all-in-one contact and messaging centre, and free text messaging is a powerful tool to getting there. If you’ve tried out Gchat-powered texting, tell us your experiences in the comments. Screen via Gizmodo.