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Google to make Gmail a little more social

Sources familiar with the company's plans tell CNET that Google is ready to integrate status updates into Gmail in Twitter-like style, with a stream of text and multimedia updates.

Google is getting ready to add social-networking features into Gmail as it attempts to jump-start its social Web strategy.

Gmail users can already set their status within the service, but Google plans to expand that into a stream of status updates found in services like Facebook and Twitter, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Users will also be able to share photos and videos through the service, which is expected to launch shortly.

Google has doubled down on its social Web strategy in recent months, with new hires and plans to devote more energy to understanding the social-media phenomenon. The company has tried to get momentum behind its ideas for several years, but hasn't gained much traction to date.

Separately, Google is building Google Wave as a similar stream of updates designed to improve collaboration. That service, which is unrelated to the Gmail status updates Google is preparing, is expected to become completely open sometime this year.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Google's plans for status updates inside of Gmail.

One key factor surrounding Google's plan will be the degree to which the service works with other popular social-networking services, namely Twitter and Facebook. Users who are already accustomed to sending updates across those services won't switch to the Gmail interface unless they can get all their messages in a central spot.

Yahoo offers something similar inside Yahoo Mail, letting users see updates to services like Twitter and Flickr from their contacts within the Yahoo Mail home page.