FriendFeed has launched a drastically different design on its beta site. The updated interface -- which will co-exist with the old FriendFeed site for now -- features real-time (and fast-moving) streaming, among other new options.
Inside the StreamThe streaming is the most significant new feature, and it's already generating a lot of discussion. (Is it too fast? Will it finally give FriendFeed the push to become a major player?) Check it out for yourself here, or take a tour in the following video:
The real-time stream is definitely an adjustment, but there's little question it adds a lot of power and new kinds of usefulness to the service.
Other ChangesThe stream is far from the only change in the new FriendFeed beta -- in fact, the whole site essentially takes on a new look. Gone are the tiny icons showing you what service someone's shared content came from (blog, Twitter, etc); instead, users' avatars now accompany every shared entry, regardless of where it's from. You can now direct message with followers as well.
Other new options include filters, saved searches, keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to create a profile for your stream. There's also a beefed-up share box that lets you send content to more than one feed at once, or even to specific subsets of users.
The Big PictureFriendFeed's goal, the company says, wasn't originally so lofty.
"We didn't start out with the goal of a radical redesign," the official FriendFeed blog explains. "Our goal was simple. Make it more intuitive, more consistent, and ideally, more elegant."
Though I've yet to fully engage in FriendFeed myself, I'd say at first impression that those goals seem to be fairly well accomplished -- the beta design is undoubtedly a significant step up from the old interface. As for its future, the plan for now is to leave both the new and the old sites up together until all the kinks are worked out. The beta design will eventually, though, fully replace the main FriendFeed site.