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8 Google Feature Requests: Gtalk, Gmail, Reader & Chrome

Below are eight feature requests that come out of daily frustrations on various Google services. Each is relatively minor and doesn't make me want to switch services... it simply creates minor annoyances. There is a chance that some of these requests are already possible. If so, I would love to hear how to access the features... and if so, it suggests that the features aren't easily accessible and/or well marketed.

1. Google Talk Audio Alerts For years, cell phone users have been able to set specific audio notifications for each contact. In simplest form, I want the ability to mute notification sounds on Gtalk and select users whose chats would promote audio alerts. Better yet, I would like to set specific sounds to different users or groups.

2. Google Talk Contact Ordering Alphabetic or frequency sorting are the only current ways to organize your chat contacts. Why?! 3. Google RSS Sharing I love the action bar below each article in Google Reader (in fact, I wish it were above the article or available on the left panel). My most common use-case is the email option - however, I wish that I could share it with a defined / private user group. Until more controls are available for sharing, I find it too general and thus unappealing.

4. Google Reader to Facebook, Twitter & Wordpress Emailing articles from within Google reader is great... I'd also love the ability to share and comment via Facebook (with Facebook Connect?), Twitter and Wordpress. A no brainer.

5. Google Calendar Notifications (via Gmail) It's great that Google Labs now allows Gmail customizations and enhancements. I've placed my Google Calendar prominently on the upper left corner of my Gmail pages... but I would like better, stronger notifications for upcoming meetings. Unfortunately the mini notification on the bottom right corner rarely catches my attention.

6. Chrome Integration I believe it is coming... but: I use Chrome and I live on Google services (Gmail, Gtalk, Google Reader, Calendar, etc). Chrome is the most logical way to tie the services together, enable greater customization and add more horsepower. For instance, Google Reader could be entirely built into the browser. Gtalk and calendaring could as well.

7. Gallery of Gmail Themes People love Gmail themes. When Google released themes for corporate accounts, our office (unexpectedly) rejoiced and people discussed their favorite themes. Bizarre? Yes.... but people love customizations. I would love to see a gallery of customized themes as, frankly, I am too lazy and inartistic to set up my own theme.

8. iPhone Apps Post coming soon on this front....

All We Need is Connectivity: Why the iPod Touch & Netbooks Matter

We have three computers in our household: one desktop and two laptops. Right now, I'm on my desktop with two wide-screen monitors. Every inch of real estate is covered in applications.... all web-based: - Gtalk and Skype - Gmail - Google Docs - Pandora - Dropbox - Twhirl - About 15 tabs within my browser (Chrome)

My computer usage is entirely online - from content to applications. In fact, the only three programs that I use on a routine basis that aren't web-based are Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Powerpoint and Microsoft Excel. There simply aren't powerful enough equivalents at this point. And for every PSD, PPT and XLS file, I move it between computers via Dropbox.

Here's why this is important:

First, while I am not the typical internet user... this is occurring more and more frequently. For me it started with smaller transitions such as from Microsoft Word to Notepad and Notetab... and from those two to Google Docs.

And it's not just the consumer: corporations are also making the shift. Supposedly one-million companies now use Google Apps. At Widgetbox, we are one of those companies. We also use web-applications to track our product process, backlog, QA, business development flow, and so on. It's a remarkable movement.

I think the shift (for consumers and corporations) reveals as much about portability as it does about lightweight, comparable functionality... which when combined, allow me to access content and applications on lighter-weight hardware - such as my iPhone. And this is precisely why the iPhone, the iPod Touch and Netbooks are the future of computing: I don't need a huge processor to do my day-to-day work. Rather, I prefer portability and form factor.

The only thing I need is visual real-estate. If I could my monitors into a netbook.... I'd be more than happy.

InGameNow Launches Post via Gtalk and AOL Instant Messanger

InGameNow formally launched two weeks ago - giving sports fans the ability to receive real-time scores, analysis and rumors via mobile, web and instant messenger. Today, InGameNow has launched an important new feature: the ability to post directly from GTalk and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). So if you're on the go, you can now receive and send sports alerts from your iPhone (or iPhone 3G if you're lucky!), Blackberry, and instant messenger clients.

InGameNow: Twitter for Sports

To receive InGameNow alerts via instant messenger or email:

- register at it's free - go to the "My Preferences" page... linked atop each page - select whether to receive alerts for your favorite teams, users and/or the entire network - insert your Gtalk or AIM user-id into the form - add "" or "ingamenow" to your GTalk or AIM buddy list respectively

That's it. Now you'll never miss a score or a rumor. And you'll never have a reason not to interact with other sports fans.

InGameNow Launches - Brings Sports Scores, Chatter Mobile

I haven't blogged much in the last week - but I have good reason: we've been hard at work on InGameNow... and, just in time for tomorrow's NBA Draft, we officially launched today! InGameNow: Twitter for Sports

As I have discussed before, InGameNow was launched and funded out of sfEntrepreneurs - an organization of ten local entrepreneurs with varied skillsets. After a couple months of intensive work in each of our 'spare' time, we have launched a product that we are very excited about. The concept of InGameNow arrived from the team's two shared passions:

1. We are all avid sports fans 2. We are all avid Twitter users

But we collectively were disappointed about the lack of a sports presence on Twitter - and personally, I am a believer that Twitter is effective for open, spontaneous discussions but struggles as a medium to follow structured events.

The end result is which can best be described as Twitter for sports. With InGameNow, sports fans can interact around teams, players and games... most exciting, users can now receive real-time updates and scores via Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger and Email (customizable by frequency and content) - so even if you can't attend or view your team's next game, you'll be able to stay up-to-date and engage with fellow enthusiasts:

For mobile users, you can either us Google Talk, browse directly on (optimized for the iPhone) or schedule email alerts:

We also had a nice write up on Mashable:

A new sports community called InGameNow, from the creators of the recently acquired beRecruited, adopts the Twitter method of disseminating user-generated information on sports news reporting and commentary. In addition, these Twitter-like updates are filtered based on votes, so the best updates can bubble to the top. In true sports community nature, users on InGameNow earn points for site participation, and can work their way up the rankings in order to become trusted users...

If you're a sports fan, I encourage you to check out InGameNow. We aim to have an active night of posting for tomorrow's NBA Draft. And (as always) I welcome feedback either on the blog or directly via email!

Twitter Can Learn a Lesson from my Girlfriend

I turned my girlfriend Anette onto Twitter 6 months ago (@anetteherrera. She's admittedly and proudly not a techie; but she enjoys following a few close friends has actually posted 100+ tweets since registering.

All of her twitter usage has come from her Blackberry. Other than registering, she has never visited So when she asked me last night why she hadn't received any Twitter updates in over two weeks, I realized that she had no idea that Twitter had been down and shut off their IM service.


Twitter has been lauded for being transparent with their status problems - releasing a new blog, giving interviews and attempting to address the issues. But, that praise has come from techies (like myself). And if you don't read TechCrunch or blogs like this regularly - you'd be left in the dark wondering why on GTalk isn't working... which is precisely what happened to Anette (though she really should read my blog!).

The lesson I learned is that transparency only works when there are viewers.

One of the great growth factors for Twitter was the ability to receive and post from distributed sources (ie But the only notice from Twitter regarding their service failures is on a status blog and in a small square on your profile. Perhaps an email would work? Perhaps an @twitter direct message?

While most of Twitter's users are tech-folks, I guarantee there are countless others like Anette who wondered why they weren't receiving Twitter updates and couldn't makes posts. It's not good business to hope that these users figure out what's going on and hope that they return... when the service returns.

Twitter & Friendfeed: Understanding Referral Traffic, Arriving at a Business Model

For consumers, the power of the distributed web is accessing and connecting content across one’s internet usage and social graph. For content owners, the power of the distributed web is precisely that: one’s content is distributed such that it attracts new readers and generates more traffic.

And as sites like Friendfeed and Twitter (and others) approach tipping points, they are becoming significant traffic drivers. And as sites like Twitter continue to open up via APIs and third-parties, that traffic itself is getting distributed (Twhirl, Twitterific, etc). My point in detailing this process is that social sites like FriendFeed, Twitter and Facebook are contributing very large percentages of referral traffic - with me, for instance, Friendfeed and Twitter are becoming two this blogs largest referrals; meanwhile, Facebook delivers very targeted, high volumes of traffic to beRecruited.

As this trend grows (*and it certainly will - the question is by how much*), it will become increasingly important to understand precisely where that traffic is coming from… which is currently very, very difficult. Aggregating traffic from Twitter is damn near impossible because it comes from so many sources and applications. Here is a small subset of traffic that has arrived at this blog via Twitter:

- Twitter badges on various blogs – which mark referrals as those blogs - (via different Twitter accounts / pages) - 3rd party apps (which represent a massive portion of Twitter’s usage): Twhirl, Twitterific, etc - Gtalk: which is marked as direct traffic - SMS-to-Mobile-Web: again, marked as direct traffic - Social / Status Feeds on sites like Facebook

Tough to keep straight.

Even tougher to understand what the true amount of traffic being delivered from these sites are. Consequently, it’s also tough (and near impossible) to understand the value of those sources and how much focus I should spend on acquiring traffic from those sources.

These questions are currently overlooked because the traffic levels are growing, but are still relatively small. But what happens when they represent 20% of your traffic? Those sorts of numbers have enabled an entire industry to exist around SEO.

So as I think about services I’d pay for - and as sites like Twitter think about business models - perhaps we’ve arrived at a start. I am not a believer that the two prominently discussed models will work (ads in streams and subscriptions). But, I would be willing to pay (and perhaps handsomely) for data around my account, users, content and traffic…. Because right now it’s a black box.

Twitter Now Working on Gtalk; First Tweet is from JasonCalacanis

Ahh... I missed Twitter.

And while Twitter wasn't cooperating with Gtalk for the last couple weeks, I found myself not using the site or service. But today, at 1:42pm pst, I got my first Twitter message over Gtalk and I knew it had to either be Calacanis or Scoble.... Jason won:

Twitter Jason Calacanis

AT&T Raising SMS Rates to $0.20... When Will We Move to Email?

Starting March 30th, AT&T is raising SMS and MMS rates by $0.05 to $0.20 and $0.30 respectively... which is absurdly expensive considering that the actual cost of an SMS message to the carrier is close to nothing. Slashdot and each did analysis stating that the effective marginal cost of a text message is zero.

So while our phone bills are growing, I ask:

Why is sms still the instant-communication of choice?

I find email, Gtalk and Twitter to be equally effective. Anyone who uses a Blackberry or iPhone (or email capable phone) has access to information instantly and email provides more flexibility. The only benefit of text messages is that you can set dedicated alerts to them (vibration, sounds, etc). Is that worth it?

Gtalk is fully integrated into my Blackberry (or your iPhone) and allows real-time communication, full alert customization... and oh yeah - it's treated as data (rather than $0.20 a message).