Google Gets Personal And Social - InformationWeek
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1/15/2009
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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google Gets Personal And Social

Little drops of personalization continue to fall upon Google properties. The drizzle is enough to suggest that the word "social" belongs somewhere in the company's description of its focus: "search, ads, and apps."

Little drops of personalization continue to fall upon Google properties. The drizzle is enough to suggest that the word "social" belongs somewhere in the company's description of its focus: "search, ads, and apps."On Thursday, Google granted mere mortals the ability to create themes for their iGoogle pages, an ability previously reserved for artists of note.

"Now, you too can capture memories and images on your iGoogle homepage by building a custom theme," explains Google engineer Kathleen Ko in a blog post. "We've just released our new tool for creating iGoogle themes. It's an easy way for iGoogle users to spruce up their personalized homepage without needing to know how to use XML, etc. All you need is an image, and we'll provide the rest."

The new tool wasn't available when I tested it -- all that loaded was a white Web page. Opening-day jitters no doubt. But eventually, rest assured, anyone will be able to use it to add an image to an iGoogle page, to crop it, and to select complementary font and background colors.

IGoogle themes can be shared or kept private, for those committed to personalizing iGoogle with explicit photos. I'm looking forward to experimenting with a Yahoo logo and color scheme, once Google's engineers get the custom theme tool working.

Google also said that social app company iLike had created a version of its popular iLike music community gadget that works with Google Friend Connect, a service that lets Web site owners add social features to their sites.

"iLike's playlist gadget lets you and your visitors shape the site's 'musical footprint' as a group," says Google product manager Mussie Shore in a blog post. "With this application, anyone visiting your website can listen to songs on the playlist, and if they sign in using Friend Connect, they can add their own favorites to the list. Of course, you can also add songs to the playlist, and as the site administrator, you have the ability to remove songs or change the order."

Those who have mastered the challenge of deleting spam from their in-boxes can now look forward to erasing musical missteps recommended by "friends."

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