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Yahoo Messenger gets plug-ins

The Yahoo Messenger with Voice beta includes free mini-apps for collaborative calendaring and event planning, and more.

Yahoo introduced on Monday a beta of its Yahoo Messenger with Voice chat application that includes free plug-ins designed to let people to do things like track eBay auctions, see friends' wish lists on Amazon.com, collaborate real-time on event planning and compare calendars with contacts.

Separate versions of the Yahoo Messenger with Voice beta are being launched for nearly 20 different languages. The American English version alone will feature more than 20 plug-ins, free mini-applications that can be added to the chat program.

Created by both Yahoo and third-party developers, the plug-ins, available because Yahoo has opened up its application programming interfaces, let users do a variety of things from within the instant messenger application.

The eBay plug-in, for instance, lets people monitor eBay listings and bids, keep an eye on their watch list and view successful bids. The Amazon.com plug-in lets people view "what's hot" and "what's new" and share wish lists.

A Yahoo Calendar plug-in allows users to simultaneously view each other's calendars, search Yahoo Local and Yahoo Maps for locations to visit, and send appointment invites through the instant messenger application. A Yahoo Event Finder plug-in lets people collaborate on event planning, and a Yahoo 360 plug-in enables users to view friends' blogs, photos and other Yahoo 360 updates through the IM program.

Another plug-in lets people listen to free music from LaunchCast Radio. Yahoo Instant Messenger with Voice also now allows people to drop short sound effects into their voice conversations, offers users up to one gigabyte for file transfers, and increases the number of friends who can be added to the contact list to 1,000.

Earlier Monday, Microsoft said that on Tuesday it plans to publicly launch Windows Live Messenger, its next-generation instant messaging program that automatically updates contact information and lets people share files by dragging and dropping them onto a contact list.

AOL recently introduced a free AIM phone service, and Google offers Google Talk.