If you need proof that the stream makes complex services more accessible, take a look at Glide Engage. Launched last week, Glide Engage is a stream front-end for the Glide, a Web OS which offers a suite of integrated Web Apps including docs, spreadsheets, photo and music uploading and sharing, calendar, email, Website creation and collaboration tools. Glide can be overwhelming. There is a lot there. But it has attracted its own loyal following of about one million registered users.
With Glide Engage, the various features of the Glide OS become available on an as-needed basis and gives a better entry point for the service. At first glance, Glide Engage is a micro-messaging service on steroids. You can follow (“engage” with) other people in Glide, add comments to your stream, share links and files, create discussion groups and bring different media and people into online meeting spaces. In the left-hand column you can also set up news alerts and see the latest articles being shared on Glide about those topics.
What makes Glide particularly interesting is that it is also a Twitter client. You can import your Twitter stream and read it within Engage like you can with other Web-based Twitter apps. You can Tweet out messages, but also add links to photos, documents, playable music files and videos which bring people back into Glide. Imagine if Seesmic or Tweetdeck hosted their own photos, videos, and other shared files, and had a Web productivity and communication suite as well.
The Twitter functionality is very limited at this point. You can reply to a message or retweet it, and find some information about the person whose Twitter message you are looking at. And when you send a Tweet, you get redirected to Twitter. All of this is a work in progress and will improve over time. To the extent that Glide Engage can extend its OS capabilities to Twitter, the more interesting it will become. Soon, you should be able to create Twitter groups and send out links to Glide’s collaboration spaces, which let multiple people look at photos, videos, documents, and videos in an online meeting environment.
Glide also allows you to assign rights to each file you share, so a document or photo can be shared in view-only mode or you can give others editing privileges. These privileges can be changed on a message-by-message basis. The overall user interface could still use some simplification and isn’t as zippy as other stream reader apps (and I am not sure why the logo looks like a flaming IE logo crashing into the water), but Glide Engage also has some novel features worth exploring.
Glide is built on a sophisticated syncing engine, which means that it can share all of these files on mobile phones as well. It will release an Android app for Glide Engage next week on August 18, followed by BlackBerry, and Windows. The company will do an iPhone app at some point, but since this syncing capability competes with Apple’s MobileMe, it wants to establish Glide Engage on other mobile platforms first.