February 26, 2008
Instant messengers, rejoice! Google has updated Gmail Chat and Talk with the ability to go invisible. This was a much-needed feature of the IM client built into Gmail. Google stepped up and delivered.Has anyone else noticed that Google does most things by stealth? It's rare that a grand announcement is made when it updates features or functionality of its products. This is counter to the norm. My inbox is constantly flooded by companies pitching the most minor updates as major news items. Not so, Google. It rolled out the invisible feature over the weekend and didn't bother to tell anyone until users started noticing that the feature was suddenly there. Late yesterday, a post on the Official Gmail Blog copped to the new feature.
Anyone familiar with instant messaging / chat programs knows that sometimes it is a nuisance to be "available." While most of your coworkers might know you're on deadline and leave you alone, there's always a few people out there who are desperate to talk about what happened to them over the weekend. They never let you get any work done. Even switching your status to "Busy" or "Please don't bother me" or "Buzz Off!" fails to prevent certain people from reaching out to you. That's the beauty of invisible. With the new invisible mode in Gmail Chat and Talk, you'll appear offline to your Gmail contacts, as well as to your AIM contacts (if you use AOL's program). You'll be able to see who's online, but they will not be able to see that you are online. There is, however, a double-edged sword here. If everyone chooses to go invisible, it sort of negates the usefulness of chat programs. That conundrum aside, you no longer have to worry about Bob down in accounting bothering you about your expense reports when you're busy doing real work. Now, about Yahoo Instant Messenger...
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