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Mozilla Labs' Ubiquity Integrates Easily

Ubiquity, the latest from Firefox creators Mozilla, hopes to make browsing more intuitive.

Mozilla interface open source

It's still a little early in Ubiquity's life to call it a game changer, but there are some promising elements in place.

Writing on the Mozilla Labs blog, Aza Raskin lays out the plan for Mozilla's Ubiquity. "Today we're announcing the launch of Ubiquity, a Mozilla Labs experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily," wrote Raskin.

Right now adding a map to an email requires you to go to an online map service, type in an address, copy the link and paste it into the email for the recipient to click on and peruse. Ubiquity changes that approach. By installing Ubiquity on a machine with Firefox, users can open the Ubiquity window, type in the address they are looking for, insert the image into an email message and send it along.

Not satisfied with just the map? Maybe you want to attach a review of the restaurant where a group of friends are meeting up? Ubiquity can search Yelp and attach the review to the same email. Now all the information the recipient needs is on hand and in one message.

Currently, Ubiquity is only compatible with Gmail. And that's just one example of what Ubiquity can do. Google searches, Wikipedia searches, a calculator function and text translator are just a few of the other functionalities that come built into Ubiquity.

Ubiquity, as Raskin explains, aims to "extend the browser functionality easily."

"The overall goals of Ubiquity are to explore how best to: empower users to control the web browser with language-based instructions. Enable on-demand, user-generated mashups with existing open Web APIs. Use Trust networks and social constructs to balance security with ease of extensibility."

Since I installed Ubiquity this morning, I've sent maps to several friends with the locations of places they'll most likely never go, updated my Twitter account and searched IMDB.com's database for Megan Fox's upcoming projects.

I've used the built in translator to learn how to say: I'm a technology reporter -- in German. (Ich bin ein Technologie-Reporter, in case you're wondering.) In a few minutes I'm going to use Ubiquity's translator to read the front page of the Beijing Evening News in English.

There's an interesting looking story on the home page about the Paralympics I found while I was toying with the different features in Ubiquity.

And those are just a few of the options that I've cherry picked since I've been using the program.

The functionality that I've come across has been a little bit buggy -- it could be pilot error -- but that's to be expected, Ubiquity is still, after all, early in its development. Fortunately, though, we're talking about a product that Mozilla is behind. Like Firefox, Ubiquity is an open source project and the people at Mozilla hope that the community takes up the idea and begin to write their own code in order to expanding its functionality.

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