Earlier this month, FriendFeed opened the beta testing area of its site to test a major redesign and a big new feature: Real-time updates. Today, it has removed the beta label from the new features, and pushed them live to the regular site.
Initially, there was quite a bit of concern from beta testers that the real-time updates were simply too much information being thrown at you, too quickly. But over the past several weeks, that talk has quieted quite a bit, and users seem to be acclimated to the live updating functionality. Of course, there have been some who also chose to use the regular, more static FriendFeed site still, so it will be interesting to see how those users react now.
This roll-out is potentially important for other social sites as well. The biggest is of course Facebook, which has stated its desire to make the site’s news feed streams update in real-time. Given the initial backlash FriendFeed saw against real-time, one can only imagine how bad it would have been received on Facebook. Especially considering that site has over 200 million users sending updates.
And it’s likely that fact that is delaying the roll-out of the real-time data flow on Facebook, I’m hearing. That functionality was first talked about during the preview event for the most recent redesign back in early March. But with its recently unveiled new stream APIs, Facebook is allowing other services to access some of its data flow in real-time, and to build apps that handle it, even if it can’t do that, yet.
And the real-time updates aren’t the only new feature of FriendFeed. Aside from the aforementioned redesign that makes the site have a cleaner look, there is improved search functionality — including the ability to easily search for users. There is also a way to save searches that you do often on the site and have them easily accessible.
There is also a new feature that it’s calling “FriendFeed by Email.” Basically, this allows users to interact with the service through an email account. This includes sending updates and images, and to send messages to specific groups. You can also get custom updates emailed back, including comments on the items you have posted to the service. Replying to these will place a comment underneath on FriendFeed.
The new version of FriendFeed also includes the ability to direct message people, just as you can on Twitter, and this too will work through email.
Learn a bit more about the real-time update aspect in the video below.