Google on Wednesday launched 19 "social gadgets"developed by the search engine or third parties. The mini-applications included multi-player games, such as Scrabble and chess; joint to-do lists and video-sharing on YouTube.
In addition, Google is giving iGoogle users the option of adding a "friends" section comprising people selected from the users' Google contacts list. iGoogle users can share social gadget activities with these people. Google also has added a chat feature for messaging contacts directly from iGoogle.
Before the new social features, iGoogle primarily offered a single location for search and accessing applications, such as Gmail, and content, including syndicated feeds, weather information and news articles. Users can choose to leave out the new features, which are meant to keep people on iGoogle longer by eventually making it a hub for social-networking activities.
Third-party developers will be able build iGoogle gadgets using the Google-backed OpenSocial API. The application programming interface is used to make applications interoperable with with any supporting social network, such as MySpace, which developed the API with Google, Friendster, Hi5.com, Sonico.com, Ning and Google's Orkut.
However, Facebook, the Web's largest social network, does not support OpenSocial. Instead, the site offers its own APIs called Facebook Connect, which provides users with the opportunity to share content created at a third-party Web site on Facebook.
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