Plaxo 3.0 beta. I actually quite like it

Ok so I'm not going to do some complete review of Plaxo 3.0 beta, but I'm seeing some interesting new features being added to the next version of Plaxo.

The first major change is Open ID support. Now to be fair this adds to the already AOL login support on top of standard Plaxo login. So now there's 3 different ways to log into plaxo. Unfortually its not that simple because the Plaxo clients seem to only support the previous types of logins. But then again, how would you do Open ID in a desktop application? On the plus side you can attach your Open ID(s) (yes multiple open ids) to an existing plaxo account or start a new one in the same way.

There's this new feature called Pulse which is like a life stream from all your contacts. How it seems to work is Plaxo looks through all your contacts and finds all the blogs, flickr feeds and amazon wish lists attached to that contact then display them in your pulse section. This is very much like the activities part of facebook and like that there is no rss feed of the aggregate results which is a real shame.

The last major change is Calendaring sharing. Which for me does away with the major advantage of upgrading to Outlook 2007. Instead of subscribing on the client you can use Plaxo's inbuild ical client to subscribe to ical feeds and other types of feeds. This actually makes mores sense that telling your laptop to update that feed every hour. My only problem is it won't subscribe to my friends ical from upcoming, which is a pain. You can also make your own calendar sharable as a ical feed (either full or just free/busy time can be used). So in actual fact this would have solved me and Sarah's calendaring problems. We could have both gone back to Outlook 2003, although I have to say I quite like 2007 and since I've stopped using the ical options, its a hell of a lot more stable. Could the endless calendar

Plaxo already had a developer API for years and a whole of host of goodies like the ability to export and import almost every type of file including Mozilla's LDIF format. But finally a minor addition is… sync to Google Calendars. Yes now you can sync them up and Plaxo also added Linked in support (premium only right now), Windows Live and Hotmail syncing. Now if they would just add sync to Thunderbird and Facebook, then I'd be really happy.

Generally Plaxo just needs to open up a little more by adding back the ability to export data (without switching back to the previous version), work more on their mobile options (please give us over the air syncML support) and keep adding more sync choices. I do for some reason trust Plaxo a lot more with my data that Facebook or even linkedin. Plaxo has always been good about not mining my contacts for data to be used in advertising or anything sketchy like that. However Plaxo isn't facebook and this pulse addition is worrying that they will try and follow suit. I mean it kind of makes sense because they have your contacts already but I don't want to be too social about my private data, thank you very much.

Will all this help more get into Plaxo? Yes I think so and to be honest I just signed up to their premium trial because of useful services like duplicate watching and linked in support. If I stay on beyond the free trial is questionale but worth exploring non-less.

meta-technorati-tags=plaxo3.0, plaxo, site, syncml, mobile, calendaring

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.