PeopleBrowsr smashes social feeds together

New Web site lets you combine your social feeds into one window, but it lacks refinement.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

PeopleBrowsr is a new service that can show you all your activity streams from various social sites and nanoblogs, like Twitter and Friendfeed. It also adds additional features to Twitter, such as grouping your contacts. It solves some real problems, but I found it clunky to use.

Users of the AIR app TweetDeck will get PeopleBrowsr immediately. Like TweetDeck, PeopleBrowsr lets you open up multiple Twitter streams at once. You can see, for example, the Twitter stream from your friends, the stream of people replying to you, the stream from a continuously running search. PeopleBrowser displays three streams side-by-side. If you add more you have to scroll horizontally to see them, no matter how wide your monitor is.

PeopleBrowsr puts three personal feeds into one window.

PeopleBrowsr isn't limited to Twitter. You can also set up streams from Friendfeed, YouTube, Flickr, Seesmic, LinkedIn, and other services. You can have as many running as you like. PeopleBrowsr also lets you merge feeds together, so you can see, for example, all the activity in your YouTube and Flickr accounts in one single feed.

The service also lets you see PeopleBrowsr-specific profiles of the people in your streams. If you click on a name you can see everything the person wrote, as well as related links (which I assume the service picks up from reading their activity streams). You can tag people, and you're supposed to be able to create groups. But I could not find a way to sort contacts by tag nor a way to add people to groups.

The service is extremely rough right now. It's hard to use, slow, and its features are obscured under too many different non-standard interface elements (horizontally scrolling navigation menus? Come on). I generally will forgive a service a lack of refinement if its developers say it's still in alpha testing, as is the case for PeopleBrowsr. But I got the feeling, after talking to CEO Jodee Rich, that PeopleBrowsr fairly represents his design philosophy and aesthetic, and that we won't be seeing too many changes in the layout. I believe he's trying to cram too much of his vision into one browser window, and that an AIR app might be a better delivery mechanism. Rich clearly told me has a "no download" philosophy, though.

See also: Power.com (review), Meebo, Twhirl.