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Lazybones Rejoice: This Google Gmail's For You

Gmail Labs adds more functionality to Gmail, allowing users to preview and view YouTube videos, pictures from Picasa and Flickr, and Yelp reviews.

e-mail YouTube Picasa Flickr Yelp

The addition of picture and Yelp previews comes a few months after Gmail chat added the ability to watch YouTube videos in its chat client.

The impetus for the preview functionality in Gmail comes out of laziness, according to Vishal Kasera, software engineer for Google.

"The truth is, I'm pretty lazy. That's why I like YouTube previews in Gmail chat--why open a new tab when I can watch the video my friend sent me right there?" wrote Kasera on the Official Gmail Blog. "So why couldn't Gmail automatically detect links in e-mails and show videos, photos, and ratings right inside these messages as well?"

Now, when users go into the Gmail Labs setting on Gmail, they will find new e-mail options. By simply clicking "enable" on the individual choices, users can turn on previews for YouTube, Picasa, Flickr and Yelp.

When a link to Picasa or Flickr is pasted into an e-mail, Gmail users will see an individual picture or the first few images in a photo stream.

YouTube videos receive a similar treatment. The individual video preview will appear at the bottom of the e-mail below the text, in a shaded area that says "Videos from this e-mail." When the play button is clicked, a larger version of the video appears and starts to play—all in the Gmail screen that is already open.

It works in much the same way for Yelp reviews. For each link included in an e-mail, a summary will appear. The information about a restaurant reviewed on Yelp includes a link to the review, the number of stars the restaurant has received, a phone number and general location.

While some Gmail Labs features don't add a whole lot to the overall e-mail experience, these new features will be useful. Mostly for the reason Kasera points out at the beginning of the blog post: laziness. Rather than opening new windows and managing tabs or new windows, users can receive all the information they need in a single spot. And that just increases the value of Gmail.

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