Google started to integrate a Gmail Chat widget in iGoogle‘s much-hated navigation sidebar. The page will load even slower and people will have one more reason to complain. If you don’t like the chat box, Google recommends to sign out of chat, although you could also change your status to “invisible”.

Another thing you’ll notice in all versions of iGoogle is the integration of Google Suggest in the search box. As usually, this can be disabled in the preferences page by selecting “Do not provide query suggestions in the search box”.

Preparing to become a full-fledged social site, iGoogle added a contact manager to the settings page so you can separate your contacts and view their profiles.


If these new features aren’t yet enabled in your account, visit http://www.google.com/ig/v2invite to add them. For those who hate everything about the new iGoogle, from the unfinished Gmail gadget to the big sidebar and the annoying bug that displays the canvas view of the most recently opened gadget when you open iGoogle, there’s an address that shows the old version of iGoogle: http://www.google.com/ig?gl=all.

orkut, the other social network owned by Google, continues to add last season’s Facebook features, now cleverly integrating Gmail Chat. “To get you started, we’ve come up with a formula that automatically predicts which of your orkut friends you probably want to chat with, and only tells those people that you’re signed into Google Talk. Our formula takes a bunch of things into consideration, giving preference to people who you’ve labeled as ‘best friends’ or written scraps to recently, and people who have friends in common with you.”

In addition to showing Google Talk contacts, orkut will also add some friends you are likely to chat with. Like iGoogle’s sidebar chat, orkut’s chat boxes are persistent so you can visit different orkut pages while continuing to chat.

The new orkut feature will be rolled out in the next weeks to orkut’s huge userbase, so it’s likely that you won’t see it right away.


{ Thanks, Edam. }