There's been a lot of babble about Google Babel round these parts today, and we've received some screenshots from a Google employee that confirm the revamped chat service is on its way.

The not-exactly-thrilling news is that the new Gmail Chat tool uses a more threaded-messaging style with image thumbnails rather than the traditional text-based layout.

Plus, it will come with a bunch of new emoticons and Google+ is built-in so you can zip from Babel chat to hangout if things get serious. What's more, you'll need to link your Google+ account to send photos through Google Talk.

Towering

The most interesting thing about the shots is the fact that the Babel name is confirmed by a hover-over on a Feedback button - "What do you think about Babel in Gmail?" it asks.

Babel hangout

Now, the caveats. These grabs come from a new source whose identity we haven't been able to verify because s/he insists on anonymity. They say they work at Google, but contacted us from a generic webmail address - not even Gmail, guys! - so we can't check that either.

Babel Chat

But their knowledge of the project (running in a department that isn't the one our source works in) and the fact that the Babel stuff jives with other Gmail-based Babel slippages made us think these photos were worth sharing.

And though our source couldn't confirm it 100 percent, the impression this person is under is that Babel is a collaboration of Google's communication services. In Gmail, Babel is a revamp and cleanup of the old Chat design, while we've already touched on the Google+ integration. Again, this is the impression of our source and not confirmed.

Unfortunately, the Google employee couldn't tell us anything about the rumoured WhatsApp buyout but did say there are changes afoot in the mobile advertising arena so "it's probably true." Make of that what you will.

The Babel rebrand could hit at the same time as the Google Play redesign which we're kind of expecting to happen at Google I/O in May.

More grabs below:

Babel

Babel

Babel Chat emoticons