Last week Google announced a new set of gadgets for Gmail Labs that offer integration with Docs and Google Calendar. But perhaps most exciting (and under-emphasized at the time) was the introduction of support for third party gadgets, giving users the chance to add features to Gmail beyond what Google offers.
One of the first developers to take advantage of the new feature is Remember The Milk (RTM), a popular To-Do list application that we reviewed back in 2005. The service allows users to access and input to-do items from a variety of locations, and offers its core service for free (you can pay $25 a year for support on extra mobile devices). While RTM offered support for Gmail before now, it was reliant on a Firefox extension, raising the barrier to entry and cutting out a large portion of the browser market.
The new Gmail gadget works across on all popular browsers and isn’t dependent on any plugins. Unfortunately adding the gadget isn’t exactly intuitive – you’ll first have to enable the “Add any gadget by URL” feature in Gmail Labs, and then manually enter the RTM gadget location (http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/modules/gmail/rtm.xml). You can find the full instructions at the RTM blog here.
The Gmail blog post notes that this process isn’t very user-friendly yet, explaining that it is mostly for developer experimentation rather than widespread use. But it’s an exciting taste of things to come, and it looks like Google is going to be expanding developer access even further, allowing them to integrate their gadgets beyond the left nav-bar. Look for more Gmail addons to make the jump from plugin to native gadget in the near future.
Thanks to Orli Yakuel for the tip.