Xobni, a high-profile startup that brought its Outlook plug-in out of Beta status a year ago next week. Today Xobni comes to Gmail and it looks really nice. The first 100 ReadWriteWeb readers who visit this link and enter the code XOBNI-RWW will be provided access to it. The company says iPhone and Android versions will open for testing within 90 days.Once you've added x-ray vision to your email inbox, you'll never go back to life without it. The latest service to offer just that is
Xobni competes with Rapportive (my favorite to date) and Gist, which was recently acquired by Blackberry company RIM. Another service called eTacts (site now down) was recently acquired by Salesforce. Xobni was funded by Blackberry Partners a year ago, but remains independent. Check out the screenshot below to get a feel for how it looks, what it offers and how it's different.
You can see that Xobni adds a number of details to your Gmail sidebar interface, including a profile photo of whoever is emailing you, their job title via LinkedIn, their phone number (awesome!), a graph showing how often you've been in contact with them over time and people who often show up in email threads with you and this person.
The ability to quickly glance at the sidebar of an email and gain a deeper understanding of who it is that's emailed you is really incredible. I've used Rapportive for a long time now, which offers something very similar. I hate using email without it. Give Xobni for Gmail a try, I think you'll probably like it.
Here's what we wrote about the emergence of email as a platform last Summer, when Rapportive became generally available:
We've been waiting for years for email to emerge as a platform. The key enabling factor that has now emerged is a secure way to grant temporary access to the contents of your email to trusted developers out in the larger ecosystem of people and companies who want to build these new services - all without ever giving them your precious email password.
Yahoo's Eran Hammer-Lahav: "It's pretty clear that email provides a huge potential for extensibility, given the wide range of ways people use it. The inbox is much more than just a place for incoming mail, it is the primary dashboard for many web users - it is how they manage their lives.
"So when looking at email as a platform, the opportunity of making it more useful and productive reaches most areas of online activities.
"So far the focus has been on taking social information to help better manage email overflow, but the platform has much more potential beyond that."
These kinds of apps are just the beginning, but Xobni is pretty well-developed for an email sidebar. Give it a try and let us know what you think.