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Xobni, which provides users with a customized version of Microsoft Outlook with advanced search options, announced today it is launching a new line of plugins for Microsoft Outlook users that will let them see previews of images, videos and other information feeds from Flickr, Yelp, Huddle and YouTube without leaving their email inbox.

Now that Xobni is integrating with Huddle, a social collaboration tool for enterprise users, it has turned itself into a collaboration tool. Xobni users can access “workflows” — similar to a Twitter stream or news feed for businesses — from Huddle and save contact data automatically, all within their Outlook email. Xobni also released its development application programming interface (API) to the public today, so now businesses can create and distribute custom Outlook plug-ins.

There are already a number of collaboration tools like Yammer and the native Huddle app outside of Xobni’s Outlook add-on, but the goal for Xobni is to trim off seconds and minutes here and there for Outlook users in order to increase productivity through its integration with Huddle and other future enterprise gadgets, said Josh Jacobson, senior director of product management at Xobni.

“We’re seeing users who literally will spend 8 hours or more using Outlook,” he said. “Even if it’s a minor change to something they do 100 times a day, that ends up saving tons of time.”

The San Francisco, Calif.-based company was founded in 2006 and has since raised $30 million in three rounds of funding. Its investors include RRE Ventures Fund, First Round Capital and the BlackBerry Partners Fund. Xobni launched its service publicly in May 2008.


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