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Google Launches Homepage Enhancements

Search engine giant Google, recently launched a new set of tools and gadgets designed to help all iGoogle users in the United States leverage the OpenSocial API platform for social network applications.  Not only will these enhancements change how users interact in social networking environments, but on their homepage as well.   According to Google, these tools will enhance the way users communicate, play games and share content right from their iGoogle page.

Some of the most notable social enhancements in the Google launch include:

Content Sharing – Google has enhanced content sharing in a number of ways, including the implementation of an NPR (National Public Radio) gadget that allows users to browse the latest news headlines and share stories with friends.  Also available is a Flixster gadget that allows users to rate, review and browse films, along with a CoGomics tool that permits users to share comics and cartoon strips with friends.

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Games – With gadgets such as Scrabble and Chess, users can play some of their favorite games with friends or other internet users.  Another fun tool is a New York Times crossword gadget that allows user to complete any given weekly puzzle with the aid of friends.

Communication Tools – iGoogle users can now share tasks and lists with friends by utilizing the To-do gadget.  This tool makes it simple to add and remove items, check items when done, prioritize lists and modify item descriptions.  Also on the menu is the Social Photos gadget, which allows users to upload and share photo galleries from Picasa and Flickr as well as browse the albums and top photos of friends.

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In conjunction with the launch of new gadgets, Google also released two new features for iGoogle: Friends Group and Updates.  The Friends Group feature allows users to create a list of friends from their Google contacts.  It also enables them to interact and share social tools with friends.  The Updates feature  provides users with the ability to check the status of friends by sharing social tools, photos and more on their iGoogle page.  These features are entirely optional and can be disabled by any user who does not want to use them.  Furthermore, not all these tools are social-enabled.  The ones that are can be identified by a special icon.

Google’s overall goal is to quickly connect iGoogle users with the information that is the most essential and useful to them in a simple and customizable manner.  The new social gadgets and tools are only the beginning as Google plans to continuously offer a greater range of options that enables user to create feature-rich, personalized homepages.  These benefits are not strictly limited to end-users as developers can leverage iGoogle’s fast-growing community of users to promote their applications.  Even more, they can earn revenue from their creations by using iGoogle as and advertising.  .

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Google continues its mission of innovation with a personalized iGoogle homepage that lets the user customize their web browsing experiencing.  With the addition of new tools and gadgets, users now have convenient access to movie schedules, popular games, weather information and the latest news right from their homepage.

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