Automattic’s Jetpack plugin has certainly grown since I first looked at it. I originally dismissed it, not wanting to unnecessarily tie my own self-hosted blogs to WordPress.com for a few niceties like in-Dashboard traffic stats and very thorough spelling and grammar checking via After the Deadline.
I decided to try it out again now that it hit the big two-point-oh, and was surprised now only by the amount of functionality it offers, but by how many other plugins it can conceivably replace. The Publicize module, for instance, will automatically post links to new posts on Twitter, Facebook and other popular social networks, so you don’t need another plugin for that if you run Jetpack. I also found the Mobile Push Notifications and JSON API modules to be intriguing. The former sends push notifications to your iPhone/iPad when new comments are posted, and lets you jump right over to the WordPress iOS app to manage them, and the latter is primarily of interest to developers looking to integrate a WordPress blog into another web site or application. (Previously I used this plugin, but Jetpack looks roughly equivalent.)
The big new feature in this version is a free service called Photon, an “image acceleration and editing service” which acts as a CDN for your images. It mirrors images it finds in your posts (or ones a theme or plugin developer specifies via an API) on WordPress.com’s servers, which enables them to be served faster and takes load off your server. This would be excellent for blogs hosted on cheap shared hosting, especially if coupled with a static caching plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.