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YouTube has killed an experimental feature, dubbed RealTime, that had been present in the video sharing site.

The firm confirmed on its help forum website yesterday that the service was no longer available via YouTube.

"We've seen some of you wondering what occurred to the Realtime Toolbar. The Realtime Toolbar was recently retired and is no longer an available feature on YouTube," wrote a company spokeswoman on Monday.

"We were excited to release and experiment with Realtime and it has inspired us for new features on YouTube in the future. We look forward to introducing many new features in the coming months and are sharing them with you all."

YouTube did not reveal what those new features would be, however.

The RealTime toolbar, which listed users' activities, comments and so on, debuted as an invite-only experimental feature in April 2009. But YouTube never pumped it out to the masses.

Elsewhere of course Google has been playing with other social-networking-like functions in its Gmail service, in a move to appeal to the Twitterbook set by creating its security-lite Buzz.

Embedding real-time tech into its ad-sponsored online estate has been something Google has been experimenting with for some time, so the decision to ditch it in YouTube may strike some as an odd move.

But that said, the RealTime toolbar was only ever a prototype, so perhaps Mountain View has been cooking up something else. Could Buzz be coming to YouTube too? ®

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