FriendFeed is not the new Twitter. Is it?
A new search feature makes FriendFeed more useful, but it's still frustrating.
Many pundits, in the same boat, are wondering whether FriendFeed is the new Twitter since it serves a similar purpose: it tells you what your pals are up to. And it has the easiest and best procedure for finding and subscribing to your friends' feeds of any social-network app I've ever seen.
On Monday, the company added a handy new feature: search. This is a bit of a bigger deal that it appears at first. It's not just an incremental new feature for FriendFeed users. It actually makes the site a useful search engine--if what you're searching for is something a friend did or wrote. Like the still-unreleased Delver, this tool lets you search among items only from network of friends, ignoring the chaff on the rest of the Web.
Although the search feature is a good addition, I am still not enthralled by FriendFeed. It's not that I don't like reading updates on it. That's cool. But I cannot reasonably expect that everyone I'm currently following elsewhere will jump into FriendFeed; in fact, FriendFeed still can't natively read Facebook updates. Let's call this effect Social Network Switching Decay.
Using FriendFeed instead of, say, Twitter, is not an option thanks to switching decay and also because FriendFeed can only read from social services, not write to them (for now, anyway)--yet using it in addition to Twitter is duplicative and annoying.
I can't ignore FriendFeed entirely because of its insidious comment feature: people can leave a comment on FriendFeed in response to any item it picks up. So if I post a Twitter item or a Flickr photo, now I have to check the original sources as well as FriendFeed to see what people are saying back to me.
In sum, FriendFeed balances useful and annoying better than any app ever I've seen.