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Google touts new features in desktop tool

Unveils finalized version of Google Desktop 2, app that mixes desktop search and floating palette that offers custom info. Photo: Google Sidebar

Google announced the finalized version of its Google Desktop 2 application on Thursday and outlined its new features.

Google Desktop 2, a free downloadable application, combines desktop search and the Google Sidebar, a floating tool palette that offers personalized news and other information based on a user's habits.

Dozens of new third-party Sidebar panels are now available, Google said, like iTunes, dictionary Winamp and an American Express panel to track and view credit card transactions in real time. The new software can also display maps related to the sites one visits while surfing the Net.

In addition, developers can use simple JavaScript to write plug-ins for Google Desktop 2, the company said.

Google Desktop for Enterprise, also free, now provides enhanced administration, integration and security features for corporations that want to let employees search for data on their desktop, intranet and the Web, Google said.

Google also launched a new Google Desktop Blog on Thursday.

Google faces competition in the burgeoning market for desktop search from Yahoo, Microsoft and other companies.