Zoho provides useful and free Web applications for productivity and business, just like Google does. But Zoho has done a particularly impressive job integrating all these applications together. Now it’s integrating those apps with non-Zoho websites, in the form of “gadgets” that can be added to services like Gmail and Facebook.
These gadgets, or little windows that sit on your homepage, can keep updated on the data contained in your Zoho applications (Zoho Docs, Zoho Mail, Zoho Calendar, Zoho Tasks, Zoho Contacts, and Zoho Planner) while you’re elsewhere on the web.
You can add those gadgets to Facebook, Gmail, Google’s personalized homepage service iGoogle and its social networking site, Orkut. Because the gadgets support the authorization standard OAuth, you won’t have to enter Zoho login information to access them while you’re in Gmail or iGoogle. They can also be added to any application that’s compatible with the OpenSocial standard. Finally, they can be embedded in any website.
This follows other moves by Zoho to connect with applications outside its platform — most recently, allowing users to log into other instant messaging programs through Zoho Chat. Zoho has also released some of its applications at Facebook Apps, and it allows users to log in with their Google and Yahoo accounts. These moves are important for an underdog like Zoho, since they prevent Zoho users from being completely cut off people who aren’t on Zoho themselves. In the case of the gadgets, users can mix and match Zoho with the outside apps of their choice. I’m not sure how useful the social networking integration will be, but on the other hand I could definitely see myself trying out Zoho Docs, and adding that as a widget with my Gmail account.
Zoho is part of Pleasanton, Calif.-based AdventNet.