Search giant Google is set to introduce a new feature that allows Gmail users to view media and status updates shared by fellow users – taking on Facebook and Twitter in the process.

The feature adds a module to the Gmail screen that will display a stream of updates from individuals a user chooses to connect with, a format popularised by both Twitter and Facbook.

However, Yahoo! has criticised Google for rehashing other platforms’ tools.

After Google announced the release of its Buzz tool, Yahoo! PR released a statement highlighting how it had already launched a similar feature (Yahoo Updates) nearly a year before Google.

“Two years after #Yahoo! launched #Buzz, Google follows suit. Check out the original,” said a tweet that appeared on the US Yahoo! Twitter account.

A blog about the Buzz tool released on the Google Blog by product manager Tood Jackson is tight-lipped about the origins of the tool.

“We’ve relied on other services’ openness in order to build Buzz (you can connect Flickr and Twitter from Buzz in Gmail), and Buzz itself is not designed to be a closed system. Our goal is to make Buzz a fully open and distributed platform for conversation,” explains Jackson in the blog.