I like being kept up-to-date. Who doesn’t? But there are so many things I try to keep track of, such as emails, blogs, voicemails, and more, that sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, just trying to stay as current as possible. Fortunately, for most of the “stuff” in my life that I need to keep an eye on, there are little add-ons that notify me. There are Facebook and Twitter notifiers, Gmail and Google Reader notifiers, and they’re great. But when I start adding them to my Linux panel or to my Google Chrome toolbar, they tend to take up a lot of space. Thankfully, an extension called One Number exists. It doesn’t remove all the clutter from my life, but it helps a lot.
One Number is really four different notifiers in one. It is able to check four different Google services and notify me when there’s something new. It supports Gmail, Google Reader, Google Voice and Google Wave. Of course, Google Wave users were recently told that Google will soon be stopping Google Wave support, so that will be a bit useless, but that’s not a big deal, as Google Wave has never been a part of my life. But the other three services? I use them all, so this is great.
Once you install the One Number extension, you’re pretty much ready to go. One Number accesses your browser login history so you don’t have to enter your Google credentials at all. If you’re quick, or you have no new items, the first time you launch Google Chrome with One Number running, or just after you install the extension, you’ll see four tiny gray icons, representing the four services. But soon after, or when a new item appears, the icon changes. If you have a new email, the icon switches to the Gmail icon; if it’s a new blog post, the icon changes to the Google Reader icon. You’ll also see a little badge with a number representing the number of new items you have. If you have new items from multiple services, they are added together, and the icons are placed on top of each other.
To access your new items, simply click the One Number icon. You’ll get a little drop-down viewer that shows all four Google accounts, from which you can see where your new messages (or emails, voicemails, etc.), originated. You’ll see the service icon and name, which when clicked will take you directly to that service. You can even create a new email from this viewer. If you have messages from multiple services, you have the option to view all your unread items. If you choose this option, a new tab will open for each service with something new.
The preferences are pretty full as well. You can choose to use HTTP or HTTPS for connecting, as well as different behavior settings. You can choose how often the different servers are queried, the color of the different toolbar buttons, and even whether or not to check a particular service. I found this last option to be the most useful, as I don’t use Google Wave. With Google Wave features turned off, it no longer shows up in the toolbar viewer, so there’s less clutter. Other people may use Google Wave but not Google Reader or Google Voice. It can be customized however you want.
As I said at the beginning, I was thrilled when I saw One Number and realized what it could do for me. I have the habit of using a large number of extensions, and as more and more place icons in my toolbar, it gets more and more crowded. But with One Number, I was able to replace three icons (Gmail, Google Reader and Google Voice), with a single icon, and maintain nearly all the wanted functionality. It’s simple, powerful, easy to use and gets the job done. What could be better than that?