Google has constantly been adding new features to Gmail since it originally launched in 2004. Over the last two years they have added over 2GB of storage space, RSS feed reader, virus scanning, chat, and many more features. Their latest add-on allows Gmail users to associate images with each contact (email address), therefore making it easier than ever to identify contacts. Although this may be a “new feature” for Gmail, other email services such as Yahoo! Mail have already been working on implementing custom “avatars,” which are used in Yahoo! Messenger, into their mail services for a long time.
This feature, as usual, is currently only available to a few users; however Google will eventually enable this feature for every account. Once this feature is enabled, the next time you get an email from your friend you may see an image your friend has selected or one that you may have set for him. Check back here for more information, but in the meantime login to your Gmail account and check if you already have this feature.