In an effort to unify Gmail with GoogleTalk, Google has added new chat features to the Gmail web interface. It is now possible to see your buddy list and easily open a chat with them directly in the web browser.
Though the functionality has been announced, it looks like the feature is not yet fully deployed. As of right now, I only see part of the feature set in my Gmail account.
In addition the instant messaging there is a new Chat History log. It appears right above the Sent Mail in Gmail’s list of Mail directories. Presumably all chats that are conducted through the web interface will be logged there for easy searching. As usual, we can expect the same targeted ads on the side of our chat logs that we now see in our email messages.
The chat feature should be a nice addition to the already powerful Gmail interface. It should also help GoogleTalk grow as it seems to be having trouble gaining a foothold in an area currently dominated by chat clients from AOL and Yahoo.
Watch for these features coming soon to a Gmail account near you!
Update: 2/10/06 5:10pm
Full chat features were activated on my account today. I found them when i logged in this afternoon. If you use Safari to access Gmail you will be disappointed to know Safari is not yet supported. No word as to whether support will be added. For now, use Firefox for full functionality.