So far I have looked at how Google Reader is turning into the major lynchpin of a possible Google social network, which could eventually prove worthy to seriously taking on rivals such as Facebook and Friendfeed.
This newly introduced set of features, which are still rather in the spartan stage, allows you to add social features to your iGoogle page. This could be anything from playing chess with another Gmail user to sharing and collaborating information.
Let’s take a look at what there is. I can’t cover them all but I can give you a broad overview.
The one I like the most is being able to play chess with another Gmail user. When you add the chess module, this is what it looks like on the main page :
The little crowd logo in the top right hand corner shows that the module belongs to the social gadgets group. Now when you open it up, these are the options you will find :
You can start a new game (either by inviting a Gmail user from your Gmail Contacts or starting a game and waiting for someone to come along and accept), see your current games and you can even be taken to chess rules and techniques on Chess.com if you feel you are getting your butt whipped by your opponent.
There seems to be no limit to the number of games you can take part in and each game has various limitations on how long you have to move. If you started the game, you can choose or if your opponent started the game, they get to decide. It’s a lot like “ItsYourTurn” which I have profiled twice in the past here and here..
But chess is not the only thing you can do on iGoogle. You can also play scrabble with other Gmail users but for some inexplicable reason, this game is only restricted to US users. Bah! Google, please remove this stupid restriction – I want to play Scrabble!
Moving swiftly on, you can also show your Flickr and/or Picasa photos and see others which your Gmail Contacts are also showing under “shared photos”.
As far as collaboration tools are concerned, the only current one is a basic yellow notepad where you can add tasks and then share it with other Gmail contacts who presumably can add to it or delete from it. The collaboration column is to the right where you can specify who you want to share with but they must have this app installed too on their iGoogle page – or it won’t work.
If you wanted any further proof that Google is snipping away at Facebook, then take a look at iGoogle’s new “TimeLine” where you can say what you’re reading, listening to, watching and where you are at that moment – and read the same from your Gmail contacts.
When you start typing, you will start to get a drop down list of possibilities :
and eventually when you have filled in everything, it should look something like this :
As you start to play around with everything, you’ll see that it is all fully functional, but nevertheless a bit rough around the edges. The notepad collaboration is nothing to rave home about but obviously with a bit of improvement, this could turn out to be a lot better. They should also expand their list of social gadgets and maybe ditch some of the useless ones (a tile game is perhaps a bit pointless – at least to me anyway).
But once again, we are seeing another piece of the Google social network being slotted into place alongside Reader. What will be coming next?