Yoono organizes social Web, but add-ons need work

Yoono, which lets you manage your social-networking and instant-messaging accounts simultaneously, has a great desktop application; however, its browser add-ons need improvement.

Yoono makes the task of managing multiple different social-networking accounts less of a headache. Using several instant-messaging programs because your coworkers like Google Talk whereas your friends use AIM can also mix you up.

Like Digsby and VoxOx, Yoono combines social networking with instant messaging. Sure, there are social site applications like TweetDeck that let you follow your friend's Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace accounts--not to mention the numerous all-in-one chat clients such as Trillian and Pidgin, which are very popular around the CNET offices. Yoono, however, combines all of these functions into one sleek desktop app. Those who do not want the added desktop clutter can go for the Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer add-on version, but these have some issues of their own.

With Yoono's desktop application, users can manage their Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and FriendFeed accounts simultaneously. While you interact with these sites, you can also chat on AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and Live messenger all from one spot. This program is intuitive and organized with columns that can be customized with each of your social accounts. My favorite feature is the ability to coordinate people into separate groups. This way, when my actual friends update their stuff, I can see it right away without getting lost in the crowd of high school people and "that one guy from that one Halloween party two years ago...I think". The program has other nifty features like the ability to update all of your social accounts simultaneously and switch between its column view and browser mode.

Though the Firefox add-on has some added widgets to the desktop model, they definitely need improvement. These six widgets are music, Web notes, news, discovery, and shopping. The first three are useful; the music widget plays Last.fm radio, Web notes allows you to save information from the Web, and the news widget streams your Google Reader or Digg feeds in the Yoono side bar. However, the discovery and shopping widgets are pretty annoying. These are supposed to pull up links relevant to what you are browsing at the moment. The attempts are failed; it is as though they pick up random words and display the results.

Yoono for Chrome does not have these added widgets. It has all of the same functions as the Firefox version, like the option to change background color and a sharing feature where you can share an entire page or just a highlighted portion with your online buddies. It also gives you the option to choose a tabbed interface like the Firefox version, or a floating interface that rests next to your Web browser instead of inside of it. Note that when you click on a link (such as a friend's Facebook page) it will open in a new tab anyway. Other than these features, the add-on for both Firefox and Chrome is identical to the desktop application. The Internet Explorer add-on is essentially the same as the Chrome version. It does not have the option of changing the background color and it loads much slower.

Whether you want a separate application or a Web add-on is a matter of personal taste. With the number of tabs I have constantly piling up in my browser, I prefer having a separate program to deal with the social Web and instant messaging. If Yoono improves the functionality of its Widgets, however, I might be tempted to switch. For now, though, I will be Tweeting/Facebooking/chatting/Flickring from my Yoono desktop.