Earlier today, Google announced a new Gmail API that allows developers to create contextual gadgets for Gmail. Google itself uses this API so that when somebody sends you a link to a YouTube video in an email, the video gets embedded right inside the email. Now outside developers can do the same thing to create Gmail gadgets that show the social networking activity or profiles of the person whose email you are reading, or anything else they can imagine. Xobni will be using the new contextual gadgets to finally bring Xobni to Gmail (they’ve already built a quick and dirty Hoover’s gadget for now).
But Xobni is doing something else that could prove even more interesting. It is releasing a developer preview which lets any developer port their Gmail gadgets to Outlook. Xobni, of course, is a popular Outlook plug-in. Using the Gmail API, and contextual gadget created for Gmail can now also exist within Xobni, which exists within Outlook. It’s a backdoor way for Web developers to create gadgets for Outlook by piggybacking on top of the Xobni plug-in.
The gadgets can be triggered off of any contextual information within the email. So, for instance, if there is a link to a Flickr album, the thumbnails can appear at the bottom of the email. Flight times can trigger travel info app, a UPS number can trigger a tracking app.