Somewhat inevitable, but somewhat exciting too...
Google is expanding its hugely successful Google Labs programme outside of Gmail to its popular Calendar service. Detailing the development Google software engineer David Marmaros explained:
"We've been looking for a way to release early features to users in a quick and experimental fashion, but in a way that would let developers and customers outside of Google extend Calendar too. We've seen how successful Gmail Labs has been and decided Calendar deserved Labs too. When you sign in to Calendar today, you'll see a new page in Settings called Labs where, just like in Gmail, we'll list new highly experimental features for you to try."
Six new Calendar Labs features are immediately available. 'Next Meeting' shows what is coming up next in your calendar, 'Free or Busy' shows which of your friends (with shared calendars) is, err, free or busy right now and 'Attach Google Docs' does exactly what the name suggests allowing you to attach a document, spreadsheet or presentation to an event. The remaining trio 'Jump to date' (a calendar date shortcut), 'World Clock' (track time zones) and 'Background image' (guess what?) are rather more perfunctory.
My brief time with the service suggests everything is working as it should though most of the Calendar Lab apps tend to position themselves in a new right hand side column which seems an unnecessary waste of space considering the standard column on the left for most of us is almost empty. This also seems to fly in the face of Gmail Labs integration which forces apps down the left hand column even though it is far more crowded.
Still, early days...