Who Needs An API? Powerinbox Adds Google+ Client To Its Email Platform

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Powerinbox, the new email platform that lets you run apps for Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon inside your inbox has today added support for Google+. Despite not having access to an official Google+ API (application programming interface), the company was able to analyze the Google+ protocol by tracking the requests between the official Google+ client and server. Powerinbox then created its own internal API and built its Google+ client app on top of it.

Now, when you receive a Google+ notification via email, you can use the Powerinbox app to immediately add that person to one of your Google+ Circles. Support for commenting and status updates is coming next.

In case you’re not familiar with Powerinbox, it’s one of the most practical applications I’ve come across in recent months. The idea behind the startup is to innovate on top of email by augmenting the messages sent to you by various services, essentially turning your emails into apps.

These apps run within the body of your email message by way of a downloadable Web browser extension. Currently, Powerinbox supports Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail, but it plans to add support for Outlook soon.

So, for example, when you receive a message that someone followed you on Twitter, you can use the Powerinbox app to see their tweets, follow them back, send them an @reply or direct message. For Facebook notifications, you can view the photos and posts from your friends and comment back, all without having to visit Facebook.com.

Groupon emails display a real-time counter indicating how much time the deal has left, how many people bought the deal and whether the deal has tipped.

It’s the sort of functionality that, had email been invented today, you would expect it to include.

In the future, Powerinbox plans on adding support for more apps, including Dropbox, Netflix, eBay, LinkedIn, airlines, news and even games. (Need to water those crops again? Have at it!)

Given the more established nature of these other services, we wondered why Powerinbox moved to support Google+, a brand-new social network which doesn’t even have an API for developers yet, unless you’re one of the anointed few.

Explains Founder and CEO Matt Thazhmon, the answer is simple: it’s what people wanted. According to the results of the survey the company was running on its website, requests for Google+ beat out LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, PayPal and half a dozen other services.

Powerinbox raised $1.1 million last month, mostly from AngelList investors, including  Atlas Venture (Jeff Fagnan), Longworth Ventures (Jim Savage), Correlation Ventures (Trevor Kienzle), and angels Alan Phillips (where.com), Chris Lynch (Vertica), Joe Caruso (Bantam Group), Leslie Murdock (MurdockMartell), Mark Rose (SpareChange), Mike Santullo (RocketMail) and others. The additional funds will be used to expand the platform and hire engineers.

The company’s addressable market is worth noting too: 4 billion email users by 2014. That alone is reason enough to try to improve the email experience.