E-mail management company Xobni (news, site) got the ball rolling in May when they announced a new platform for plugging contextual Gmail gadgets to Outlook. Today, the first of these gadgets are making their debut: Outlook users can now see previews of images, videos and feeds from Flickr, Huddle, Yelp and YouTube without leaving their inbox.
Part of the Xobni for Outlook 1.9.5 release, the new gadgets allow e-mails to contain rich previews of links to Flickr photos, YouTube videos or Yelp listings. The previews appear at the bottom like so:
"Sometimes a preview is all you need to save the seven-second trip to the browser. Other times, the preview will simply be a quick way to click straight to the full browser page," explained Xobni's Josh Jacobson. “We’re seeing users who literally will spend 8 hours or more using Outlook. Even if it’s a minor change to something they do 100 times a day, that ends up saving tons of time.”
The gadget bar is particularly cool because it preserves screen real estate by displaying multiple gadgets in a tabbed environment (see photo above). This is perfect for Outlook, as the the system doesn't sport the kind of scrollability that Gmail does. Additionally, the bar can expand and contract, or, if it's not your cup-o'-tea, completely turned off.
Other changes to Xobni 1.9.5 include:
- Sidebar integration with Huddle
- Better performance in slow or unreliable network situations
- Ability to disable “search as you type”
- Tons of speed and stability improvements
- Bug fixes in many areas including AutoSuggest, conversation threading, and memory usage
There are a reported 50 developers working on additional gadgets that will focus on productivity and collaboration. There's no ETA yet, but if you're a developer itching to get your hands dirty, move on over here.