New social features are popping up in iGoogle gadgets, those apps you can add to your personalized Google homepage. For instance, the My Google Book Search Library gadget, which lets you search books and create a personal digital library, now asks people who have OpenSocial profiles if they want to allow the gadget to “know who I am and access my profile” and “post updates to my Friends group.” This appears to be done through Google Friend Connect. A source sent us the screenshot at left, so this could very well just be bucket testing on the part of Google.
But it makes sense. Google has been pushing Friend Connect onto other Websites as a way for them to tap into this same profile data. Individual apps in the form of iGoogle gadgets can benefit just the same. Google has allowed developers to play around with adding social features to iGoogle gadgets since last April, treating them effectively as OpenSocial apps.
Perhaps Google is now ready to socialize iGoogle gagdets more broadly. Combined with its recent changes to allow for wider canvas pages for each app, iGoogle itself might be taking on more of the trappings of a social network. All it needs is a buddy list and activity feed.