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Thursday 16 July 2009

Google Integration

For a lot of years, it looked as though Google were just throwing any old tat out there with no real purpose or direction. Apps like "Notebook", "Bookmarks", "Base" and countless others seemed clever, but very indicative of Google's "start an idea, but never finish it" mentality.

Like most Google watchers, I quietly despaired and craved a little bit of integration. Well, it seems that they're getting the idea now. It's been fairly obvious for a while now that one sphere of integration is coalescing around their suite of Office apps - Google Mail, Calendar and Documents. As time goes on, and these applications mature, we're seeing more and more tie-ins between them. Mail integrates with Calendar to produce events, Calendar now allows you to attach a Document to an event, Tasks has finally come out of labs and things are generally a lot more polished (especially Documents collaboration, if you haven't used it, try editing a spreadsheet with multiple users!)

So the office suite is maturing nicely.

More interestingly, Google seems to be positioning a group of apps around a kind of "Social" sphere. I would include in this group: Reader, Talk, Latitude, Profile, Picasa, with perhaps iGoogle as a hub.

This move towards integration is in the early stages, but seems very obviously aimed at the Facebook/Twitter market. Look at how these apps currently integrate - as of today, Reader allows you to open up your following to pretty much any user with a public feed. You can "like" items, and these are carried across to every user who views that item. Basically, Reader has become a kind of social RSS application - a Facebook for news. Now this is all tied into your profile page, which links in your Talk status, and Latitude position if you have one, as well as your latest Picasa items and any personal information you wish to share (again, very Facebooky). On the Talk side of things, the previously innocuous "status" line has become a kind of Twitter-like information box, containing perhaps your Latitude information.

I have a feeling that we'll start to see more of this kind of thing - perhaps integrating Contacts further, maybe you'll get a timeline of your contacts activity, incorporating Reader shares, Talk update statuses and Picasa posts - like the Facebook news feed. All of this is an easy win for Google, especially if they sneak it in as an iGoogle function. The infrastructure is already there, the users are there, and integration will bring it all together.


  1. I'm badly in need of being able to share an item to one group of people but not another, and these recent changes still don't allow that.

    The groups changes they've made is of limited use, it's more about letting groups into your inner circle, with one group able to read and comment, and another group able to read but not comment.

  2. They should just get on with developing and releasing WAVE, it will be the crux of all things...