Social Features in Xobni Hold the Coolness Factor
Advanced search and autosuggest are incredibly useful, but the social features in Xobni hold the coolness factor. I'd seen Xobni demos of the Facebook and LinkedIn integrations before, but it wasn't until I used these capabilities in Xobni Plus that I understood the gravity of the connection-making. I opted to let Xobni Plus communicate with Facebook and LinkedIn by clicking on those companies' icons in the Xobni toolbar, right below contact profiles. Xobni asked me to enter my Facebook and LinkedIn passwords, and then warned me that I was authorizing Xobni to communicate with those apps. I clicked "yes." The next time I selected an e-mail in Outlook from my colleague Scott, I saw his Facebook profile picture, with his latest public posts. To find him, Xobni recognized that Scott's work e-mail was associated with his Facebook account.One quibble I have with Xobni Plus, which is probably a reflection on the tool itself, not the paid service upgrade, is that the plug-in sometimes stalls my inbox. So, if I have Xobni Plus open for a while, when I go to click on e-mails, and especially switching back and forth between e-mails, Outlook gets stuck with a 1- to 3-second latency snag. That didn't happen before I installed Xobni Plus, so it's no coincidence. I'm not sure what Xobni can do to remedy this, but for me it's a small price to pay for the ability to sift through thousands, or even just hundreds, of e-mails. Now that I've been using it for a week, I've developed a Google-esque comfort with Xobni, and I don't intend to stop using it. While $29.95 might seem like a lot of money to pay to use a tool that you've used for free, you only pay it once, and the search is much better than what I remember from demos before Xobni Plus. Moreover, just as the paid version of Google Apps contains no advertising, Xobni Plus is ad-free the minute you start using it. Download the tool from Xobni here. But honestly, if you're happy with the current search capabilities in your Outlook client (search in Outlook 2007 got a lot more granular, adding filters for searching folders and finding mail from certain people and attachments), you won't need Xobni Plus. You can even stick to the basic Xobni service if you like. Or wait until something more attuned to your needs comes along from Xobni that you think is worth paying for. Xobni co-founder Matt Brezina told me Xobni will offer several premium models in the future, possibly including mobile versions.
Clicking on the profile launched the full Facebook profile, making Xobni Plus quite the social app launch pad. It's a nice perk, but if I'm Xobni, I would think I'd want to keep users in Outlook, not let them migrate to other social networking apps. I guess Xobni believes people will do it anyway, so why not go with the flow and make it easier?