During today’s Google I/O keynote, the company unveiled a new set of widgets collectively called Web Elements that are sure to spread across the web like wildfire. The widgets allow users to quickly integrate some of Google’s most popular products, including Calendar, Search, and Maps, directly into their sites with a minimal amount of effort. Much of the same functionality has previously been available through Google APIs (in fact, some of these widgets were built on them), but most bloggers haven’t known how to use them before now. Google Web Elements makes the process much easier – just copy and paste an embed code, and you’re done.
Perhaps the most interesting widget is the ‘Conversation’ Element, which allows visitors to your site to post comments and videos, similar to the way they could using a FriendFeed embed. Site owners have the option of restricting these conversations to their sites, or to share them as global conversations through Google Friend Connect. You can check out a sample embed below.
Other widgets include ‘Presentations’, which allow you to embed presentations from Google Docs into your site, and ‘Spreadsheets’, which allow you to do the same with Google Docs spreadsheets. This is not going to be welcome news to sites like SlideShare, Scribd, and DocStoc, which let you do this with other documents.
The new Custom Search Element makes adding a Google search to your site very easy – just embed the provided snippet of code into your site, and Google will automatically index it.
The rest of the widgets are fairly self explanatory. Calendar lets you point out some important dates for you and your visitors, maps let you flag a location, and News shows the latest stories from Google News. Google also says that more widgets are on the way.