Google's Babel messenger set to launch at I/O 2013 after screenshot leak?

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New screenshots purporting to show the hotly rumoured Google Babel messenger in action have surfaced online, potentially indicating that the search giant's latest service could be ready in time for an unveiling at its annual I/O Conference in May.

TechRadar claims to have obtained the grainy grabs from a "Google employee," positing that they "confirm" the existence and impending arrival of a revamped Google communications platform.

If legitimate, the screenshots certainly seem to verify the Babel moniker, revealing that the new service will centre on a threaded message interface, with image thumbnails representing users in lieu of text handles.

Elsewhere, Babel will offer Google+ and Hangouts integration (see image, top), with the former enabling you to share photos with your friends. Google's new messaging platform will also support emojis and emoticons for dynamic visual chatting - all the screenshots we know of are featured in the slideshow below.

Reports that Google is preparing to unify its various messaging services into a single platform dubbed Babel have been gaining considerable traction in recent weeks.

The latest speculation had Google readying a blockbuster $1 billion bid for WhatsApp to bolster help bolster Babel ahead of the new service's release. However, WhatsApp was quick to deny the Google buy-out rumours and has insisted that it not currently in talks with the Internet search giant.