Not to be left out of the social spotlight, AOL (NYSE: AOL) is making a few social announcements of its own. The company says that users of AOL Mail will now be able to view and send status updates on sites like Facebook, Digg, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter from within their inboxes if they add a plug-in; AOL also says that users of AIM will be able to chat with friends who are IMing within Facebook (via AP).
The announcements come a day after Google introduced a new feature that lets Gmail users post and share updates online. But while Google’s service aggregates messages a user has sent out on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr as well as some other sites, it doesn’t let Gmail users send out messages to those sites from within their inboxes. Therefore, the AOL announcement is a reminder that Google’s e-mail competitors are not sitting still and in some ways may have an advantage here.
Indeed, although it lacks Gmail’s luster, AOL Mail remains more popular than its rival, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR). And, via its Lifestream service, AOL had already been letting its users track and send out updates on various sites from both within AIM and the AOL home page.
As we outlined before Google’s big announcement, both Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Windows Live Hotmail already let users share status updates and track activities around the web (with some notable differences). Unsurprisingly, therefore, both of those companies took advantage of the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) news Tuesday to let everybody know that they were first.