Despite the negative publicity from the recent (and brief) Gmail outage I have to admit to loving the commitment Google has shown to its email service in 2009. We've seen functionality and updates galore (just check the number of related articles below) and this is another goodie...
Realising that URL links are both the lifeblood and bane of email usage the search giant has taken the smart step of building previews from some of the most popular shared content sites on the web. This means Gmail users will be able to view Flickr and Picassa pictures, watch YouTube videos and check Yelp information directly inside their email.
The effect is similar to that of the Google Chat where YouTube videos have appeared within the client since January (see bottom, right). The rather excellent RSS feeds aggregator Google Reader also carries these traits often displaying full story content, pictures and videos without the user ever needing to open up the site they originate from.
As always these new abilities are enabled through 'Settings' in the Gmail Labs tab where you'll find the option to individually enable previews for each of the major content providers.
Let's see Outlook do that...
In related news As readers have been pointing out Google has finally launched Street View in the UK. The company had promised a 'spring 2009' timeframe in December and has stuck to its word putting online images taken across 22,369 miles of British roads.
The initial roll out sees coverage for London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bradford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Swansea, York, Newcastle, Dundee, Southampton, Norwich and Scunthorpe. Yes, Scunthorpe. Other towns and cities will be added incrementally.