PC World reports Google is testing new social features for its iGoogle personalized start page:
The updates include chat, activity streaming and a new interface for the gadgets offered on the start page.
Google plans to expand the rollout of the updated start page next month.
The new expanded iGoogle inteface, called Canvas, holds the various iGoogle gadgets for users. Google had renamed its personalized start page iGoogle and added support for a variety of gadgets for users to tap to customize the pages in May 2007.
Developers can take advantage of the Canvas interface to display more information and make their gadgets more interactive, noted Ionut Alex Chitu, a blogger at Google Operating System, a blog site that follows Google activities.
"The new iGoogle places the tabs on the left-hand side of the page, and you can expand the tabs to see the list of gadgets and status information, like the number of unread Gmail messages," Chitu noted. "There's a new chat feature borrowed from Gmail that lets you chat with your contacts while visiting iGoogle. That means iGoogle gets a sense of presence because you'll know when your contacts are online. Since the chat feature will be enabled by default, it's obvious that Google will be able to add options for sharing items and discussing posts with the contacts that are online.