Need a to-do list? Google adds one to Gmail

Google Labs offers up new Gmail Task feature for testing by users

In today's world, everyone has more and more to do every day, so Google Inc. is testing a new Gmail tool designed to help people get those things done.

On Monday, Google announced a tool called Tasks that's designed to help Gmail users create to-do lists. Tasks sits on top of the Gmail window and appears in a chat-like window that's visible while users read e-mail, use the search function or do other tasks, Google's Task Team said in a Gmail Blog post.

The feature, which is coming out of Google Labs, is still in the testing phase, noted Leon Kotlyar, a Google spokesman. To try out Tasks, users need to log onto Gmail and then click on Settings and then on the Labs tab, where they can choose the Tasks feature. After trying it out, users can send their feedback directly to the feature's creators.

Kotlyar said there is no time frame for the new feature to be officially added to Gmail -- and he noted that there's no guarantee that it will be added at all.

"It lets us test these features and lets users in on the creative process," said Kotlyar. "It's something we've heard a lot from users -- from people inside the company and from outside users. They're looking to improve their productivity and simplify their schedules and calendars."

Tasks is designed to let users create to-do items from scratch or from within their e-mail application. "Mail is where people get a lot of work done," added Kotlyar. "Having a task list integrated into Gmail makes a lot of sense in terms of seamless integration between tasks."

The company has been busy adding upgrades to its Gmail service for the past several months.

Toward the end of October, Google unveiled multiple gadgets, which were also created as part of the Google Labs project. The gadgets enable Gmail users to look at Google Calendar and Google Docs data without having to open the hosted applications.

And earlier in October, Google Labs unveiled Gmail Goggles, which is designed to prevent Gmail users from sending e-mail that they might later regret. Last month, Google Labs rolled out a test version of an audio search indexing system that's designed to find specific words in videos and let users jump to the portion of the video where the words are used. And in August, the company unveiled Google Labs-developed Google Suggest, which suggests search queries as users type words or letters.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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