Facebook Flips The Switch On Real-Time Search, Goes After Twitter Where It Hurts

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Tech crunch

Facebook

Just hours after we broke the news that Facebook had acquired FriendFeed comes Facebook’s announcement that it’s deploying its improved search product to everyone. This improved search functionality, which has been in testing since June, gives users the ability to search through shared media and status updates from their friends and the Pages they follow. And, perhaps more importantly, it lets users search through updates shared to ‘everyone’. The gloves are off — Facebook is going after Twitter where it hurts.

The new search will be a breath of fresh air to anyone who has previously tried to search Facebook for, well, anything. Under the old system, users had to browse through clunky categories to find their results, and there wasn’t a way to search though status updates or shared items at all. Now you’ll be able to simply click through different tabs on the left side of the page to jump between different categories, much as your would jump between Friends List on the Facebook News Feed. Another change is the way Facebook lets users ‘Search The Web’ — now these results are shown as a filter, rather than on their own page. And Facebook has also changed the search engine from Live.com to Bing, Microsoft’s rebranded and improved search engine.

These changes are especially important because search has long been one area where Facebook fell well behind Twitter. Twitter Search has become an amazing tool for finding the most up-to-date information on a variety of topics, including everything from breaking news to movie reviews. Facebook has slowly been making headway in this area by allowing users to share status updates with ‘everyone‘ (before that only your friends could see status updates). But until now there hasn’t been an easy way to actually search through those public updates, which made the feature useless to most people.

Now you’ll be able to jump over to Facebook search, click ”Posts By Everyone” and use it in much the same way you would use Twitter Search. You’ll see a list of matching updates from other users on Facebook, and a message at the top of the screen will update in real-time, alerting you as new updates containing your query come in.

For the time being it looks like Facebook isn’t promoting the feature too heavily — the ‘Posts By Everyone’ is the last item in the list of search filters, and I suspect that Facebook has relatively few users who are sharing their updates with the public in the first place. That will likely change soon though, as Facebook is planning to roll out a new suite of privacy options that will suggest that users begin sharing some of their data publicly.

Facebook’s 250+ million active users still dwarfs Twitter’s userbase, so even if only a small fraction of them begin using these new features, it won’t be hard for Facebook to become a serious contender in the real-time search race.

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FriendFeed Notifier brings real-time updates to the desktop

Posted on March 15, 2009. Filed under: Twitter News | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad

Sometimes it seems that we’re so plugged in to Twitter here @downloadsquad — rather, at Download Squad — that we don’t even know FriendFeed exists.friendfeednotifier

Not true! In fact, I noticed that FriendFeed just released an official desktop notifier, built on Adobe AIR. It’s pretty rough so far, but a lot of users are commenting with feature requests and improvements.

The main issue people have with the notifier so far is that it’s a bit overwhelming. Right now, it just displays a pop-up for every new item in your feed. Useful, sure, but that can be a lot of items. Without customization settings to narrow down what you’re seeing — or slim down the size of the pop-up — it’s very obtrusive.

You also have to click through to take certain actions (like responding to comments) in a browser window, even though it looks like you should be able to do it right in the notifier. Despite these little annoyances, the desktop notifier is a good first step, and seems likely to improve in the near future.

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Google Reader adds comments, risks wrath of web publishers

Posted on March 13, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google-reader-comments

Google Reader has added a new feature that makes reading RSS feeds a more social experience: You can leave comments on other users’ shared items. In other words, if your friend clicks the share button next to a blog post or news item in Google Reader, it will show up in your Friends’ shared items section along with any comment they’ve left. Now you can also comment on their comment. If multiple friends have shared the same item, you’ll see multiple conversations.

All told, the feature looks and feels a lot like FriendFeed. But there’s one major difference: Google Reader displays the full text of any articles that make their full length items available via RSS. So if your’e someone who only clicks through to articles you’ve read in your RSS reader to see what comments other people have left, this new feature could keep you from ever clicking through to the original web site. And that might be fine for you, the reader. But web publishers who rely on advertising might not be nearly as happy about this development.

Right now Google doesn’t import comments from blogs, so there’s still original content on the original web site. But there’s also currently no way for blogs or other web sites to import comments from Google Reader, as they can from FriendFeed. That may change in the future.

What do you think? Are you likely to use the new commenting system? Would you rather use FriendFeed? Or do you just visit web sites when you want to read and participate in the comments?

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Google Also Likes To Use FriendFeed For R&D; Reader Gets Conversations

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Techcrunch

google-readergooglereaderlogoIt looks like Facebook isn’t the only site to draw inspiration from FriendFeed. Google Reader has just launched a new feature that gives users the ability to comment on items that have been shared by their friends, allowing them to hold conversations focusing on each individual story. In other words, it does almost exactly the same thing as FriendFeed (at least for stories shared through Google Reader).

There are a few key distinctions. For one, conversations in Google Reader are only be visible to friends of the user who originally shared a story (FriendFeed allows comments to be displayed to the public with input from users who aren’t your friends). But Google’s blog post notes that it has more for its new comment system on the way, and it wouldn’t be surprising if public sharing is on the roadmap.

Also important to note is that there’s apparently no way to export the conversations that are held on Google Reader. While this is likely because of the private nature of the conversations, it can’t be welcome news to services like FriendFeed, which thrive on being able to import activity from other sites.

We’ve heard that Google has been toying with this idea since at least 2007, when we noted why some blog owners may well be opposed to it. For those blogs that send out full feeds (rather than summaries or the first paragraph of their posts), this new feature could potentially move the conversation away from the blog and onto Google Reader.

googreadshot

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