iGoogle Adds Sidebar Chat, Works Just Like Gmail

Google’s start page is rolling out a sidebar chat tool, which uses Gmail users’ existing chat settings if they have them but can also chat between iGoogle users without Gmail (all 12 of them?) We kid, we kid. iGoogle’s chat works almost exactly like Gmail, offering the same status options, providing mouse-over details on contacts and quick links to email, chat, and choose their appearance frequency in your list. If you want to invite a non-Gmail friend to chat, you can do that from the “Add friends” link—they’ll have to sign up for iGoogle, but after that, you’re both inside Google Talk/Chat. The two noticeable drawbacks to iGoogle chat are the lack of Gmail’s AIM support, and no pop-out options for the chat windows that pop up from the lower-right corner. If you use iGoogle to get things done and don’t want any chats, you can sign out and minimise the chat bar to a single line. It’s a US-English-only thing for now, but “coming soon” for other languages and countries. Does Google Talk make your iGoogle page a better all-in-one home page, or is it feature overload? What features would you like to see installed? Trade your takes in the comments.

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