Gmail expands services and offers hints for the future

As well as a new system-tray application for windows users, Google offers hints of possible paid-for services in the latest expansion of their email trial

Google seems set to create revenue streams beyond advertising, with the quiet release of four new enhancements to its Web-based Gmail service including hints about new pay-to-use services.

The hint comes with the release of a new automatic forwarding feature for Gmail, the company’s web-based email offering. Released with little or no fanfare on 5 October in the US, the new feature is "free during the test," according to Google’s Help Center.

Another new feature, the Gmail Notifier, challenges MSN Messenger by manifesting as an icon in the Windows system tray and advises account holders when their Gmail account receives new messages, removing the need to log onto the Gmail site. Intriguingly, Gmail Notifier also offers an option to make Gmail the default for any mailto: links found on Web pages, with this option turned on after installation.

Other new features include an enhanced contact book and the ability to save draft emails, a function previously absent from the Gmail offering.

Google is yet to issue an official announcement about these new services, save for the Help Center page.

ZDNet Australia's Simon Sharwood reported from Sydney. For more coverage from ZDNet Australia, click here.