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Gmail 'people widget' tidies up your inbox

Within two weeks, you'll be seeing a brand-new Gmail feature that makes it easier to see your connections with friends.

Google's upcoming Gmail People Widget
Gmail tidies up. Google

Your Gmail inbox will soon become a list-maker.

Over the next two weeks, Google is rolling out a new feature to its Gmail users, a "people widget" that tidily aggregates the content you share with your contacts.

Stashed away on the right side of the screen, the people widget will list the messages, phone calls, and chats between you and a contact. You'll also get a glance at e-mails, shared Calendar activities and Google Docs, and Google Buzz updates. You should be able to click an item to interact with the entry.

The widget also provides quick access to contact your contacts through e-mail, chat, a meeting, and so on.

This isn't the first time we've seen this concept of aggregating communication details to make finding information and shared items easier. Xobni is a San Francisco start-up with a similar beta product, except that it also includes search, statistics, and auto-suggestions. Xobni also pulls in contact data from e-mails, and approved information from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among other features. (Xobni also builds mobile and desktop apps.)

Although Google's Gmail widget won't have Xobni's features at launch, it's a sure bet the software titan will gradually build off its new tool to incorporate other Google features and services, like maps and mobile contacts.

The Gmail people widget will be a global release to Google's hundreds of millions of active users, although it's an optional feature that you can turn off in the settings. The widget looks useful to us so far, but we won't know for sure until we see it appear in our own inboxes, so keep checking back for more. You can view more screenshots in Google's blog post.