A couple months back, the Gmail team added a few Labs experiments that let you add gadgets to Gmail's left nav. One of these experiments allows you to add any gadget by URL (i.e. pasting in the URL of its XML spec file). While the UI for adding gadgets is a bit klunky, people have already started building some interesting gadgets for Gmail.
Now Gmail supports OpenSocial APIs, so you can create social gadgets that make use of Gmail contacts. Gmail's contact manager has a few different groups (see screenshot below). The OpenSocial APIs use the 'Friends' group, the same list of of friends that the iGoogle sandbox uses.
Ready to try it out? To add a gadget to the left nav of your Gmail account, follow these steps:
- Go to the 'Labs' tab under Gmail Settings.
- Enable the 'Add any gadget by URL' experiment and click 'Save Changes.'
- Now you'll have a 'Gadgets' tab under Settings.
- Enter the URL of an OpenSocial gadget spec and click 'Add'.
Like all Gmail Labs, OpenSocial support is experimental and may change, break or disappear. You can find more info about Gmail's implementation of OpenSocial on the Gmail page of the OpenSocial wiki. If you have questions, please post them in the OpenSocial Application Development forum.