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8 OpenSocial apps worth trying out

OpenSocial might not be Facebook's app platform, but it still has some neat apps that are worth giving a whirl, from PollDaddy to Stunt Pilot.

Since OpenSocial's release in 2007, a variety of applications have been developed through the program. While some of the applications are built for MySpace, and others are also available on Facebook--which has kept its distance from the Google-led platform--the majority of them unfortunately are designed for less popular social networks, such as Hi5, Orkut, and Ning.

Some OpenSocial apps, regardless, are worth trying out. From games to profile add-ons, I've found eight that I deem worth adding to a compatible social-network account.

8 OpenSocial apps

Centrl Centrl is a chat tool that enables you to communicate with friends across many social networks. It can be installed on MySpace, Orkut, Ning, Hi5, and elsewhere. Once installed, you can engage in a public chat with anyone or talk to individuals on a variety of social networks, including Facebook. The app also determines your location so you can find folks in your area.

I found Centrl chat to be simple and appealing. But considering that so many social networks have their own instant-messaging tool, don't expect Centrl to gain too much traction anytime soon.

Centrl shows you who's on across the world. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

MiniTweet MiniTweet is a simple OpenSocial app. The tool adds a small Twitter update box to your MySpace profile. You can pick a title and input your user name. MiniTweet then displays all your recent Twitter updates on your profile. At any time, you can view your Twitter page by clicking on your MiniTweet title. You can't update your status in the app, but it's still worth checking out.

MiniTweet displays your Twitter updates. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Music iLike Music iLike is available for MySpace, Orkut, and Hi5 users. It's also available as a Facebook application. After you install it on your profile, it lets you search for music videos or songs. Once you find what you're searching for, you can add it to your profile. All those songs can be played by visitors to your profile page. Unfortunately, only a portion of the song will play at any given time. If you want to listen to the whole song, you'll need to buy it from iTunes or by clicking the appropriate link in the app.

Music iLike
Music iLike helps you find songs. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

OpenSocial Dev App The OpenSocial Dev App is a must-have for anyone who wants to start developing applications for the platform. It can be installed on Hi5, Ning, MySpace, or Orkut. It's designed specifically for OpenSocial sites. Once installed, you can create a full OpenSocial app by coding JavaScript. The tool also lets you preview your app to see how it's coming along. Once complete, you can export it as an XML file. It's a handy tool to have for any OpenSocial user.

OpenSocial Dev App
OpenSocial Dev App helps you create your own app. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PollDaddy PollDaddy is one of my favorite online polling apps. In a matter of seconds, you can create a poll or survey, and embed it into your blog. I do it almost daily, and it works beautifully.

The same is true for its OpenSocial app, which is available to MySpace, Ning, Hi5, and Orkut users. You can create a poll in the app and embed it into your site. You can also view statistics on your poll to see how many people have responded.

PollDaddy's poll-creation app is fantastic. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

The Scramble Game The Scramble Game can be played on Hi5 or Ning. It's also available on Facebook. Once you learn how to play (it will take a while), I think that you'll like what you find. You simply grab letters ("tiles") that are being displayed before you. The more tiles you have, the greater the chance you can form words. You can play against bots or players on the social networks, and unlike with the classic game Scrabble, there is no board on which to put Scramble words. At any rate, the game is fun.

The Scramble Game
The Scramble Game takes some getting used to. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Stunt Pilot Stunt Pilot is an extremely addictive game. It's available to Ning and Orkut users. A Facebook app version is also available. The game is simple--control a stunt pilot as he or she flies through rings to earn points. As you earn more points, you'll join the leaderboard, which is made up of players on the aforementioned social networks. As with Scramble, Stunt Pilot is fun.

Stunt Pilot
Stunt Pilot is really fun. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

YouTube Top Favorites YouTube Top Favorites adds all the top videos from YouTube to your MySpace apps. Unfortunately, the app doesn't let you search for YouTube videos. Instead, you'll find a listing of videos under such categories as top rated or top viewed.

I would have liked to have searched the site with the app. It was a conspicuous omission. I should also note that the app interface is clunky, with a series of links and a video to the right. You won't have trouble finding videos, but it could really use a designer's touch.

YouTube Top Favorites
YouTube Top Favorites won't let you search, but you'll find good videos. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. PollDaddy: PollDaddy is just as good on social networks as it is on its own site.

2. Stunt Pilot: Fun, fun, fun.

3. OpenSocial Dev App: What's better than creating your own app in an app?