RealTime IT News

Gmail Atom Feed Coming?

It looks like Google is set to roll out some new Gmail features, one of which is support for the Atom syndication format.

The company added a button to some Gmail accounts Monday that clicks through to an Atom feed, although aggregators did not recognize it. However, the button does provide a glimpse into Google's plans for feed syndication.

Company officials did not return calls for comment but, at first glance, it looks like Gmail users will be able to set up and receive e-mail alerts on feed aggregators. The Atom feed is designed to display the subject line, the e-mail address of the sender and a brief summary of the e-mail message.

The feed could potentially be used by Google to shuttle text ads from its AdSense program to aggregators in much the same way advertisements are displayed on Gmail.

The company has also added new power searching tools for some Gmail users, a strong hint that a general launch is just days away.

The Atom syndication format, which is best described as an alternative flavor of RSS , was created by developers from Google, IBM and a host of blog tools vendors.

Google, through its Blogger service, later ditched RSS in favor of Atom, leading to controversy among software developers who argued that two competing formats would scare away mainstream adoption of the fledgling technology.

In March this year, co-author of the popular RSS format Dave Winer, made a public proposal to merge Atom and RSS into a single protocol.

"We could come up with a new format called, say, RSS/Atom. It would have the great spec that the Atom people are promising. A great validator, and lots of support from developers who evangelize the format," Winer said at the time.

Separately, Google has moved the location of AdSense ads on the Gmail service from the side of the messages to the bottom of the page.

The company also added advertisements to the e-mails in the Sent folder and changed the color display to embed the ads on a visible blue-shaded background.

Gmail, which is still in beta, is an invite-only e-mail service that offers 1000 MB of storage space.