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Jibe and Xumii are two mobile service that let you access “feeds,” or streams of activity, from other social networks and services, and both are debuting new test versions of their services this week. The concept of both services is promising, given that a typical use case for a mobile application is a person with a few minutes to spare and a phone in their hand.
On each application, you see incoming messages as well as status updates and other information from social networks, and respond with your own messages. This is somewhat reminiscent of Friendfeed, a web service that lets you track what your friends are up to on other sites.
In addition to sharing media with any friend, Jibe gives you an easy way to “express the moment” without having to type a message on your phone, a feature it calls a “Shout.” Shouts are animated voice expressions, similar to a “poke,” making it easy for users to express themselves and grab the attention of their friends.
Both services let you sync with at least some social networks that you’re a part of and message back and forth with your friends on them (see Jibe screenshot below).
Both services also offer a mobile application, a web application, and ways to text messages to the service, even if you don’t have access to either application. If you send messages to non-members, they receive an email or SMS that includes a link to the message. They click on the link and can view what has been shared with them. This feature is especially valuable for mobile devices — most users tend to not download mobile applications.
Stepping back, one may wonder about the result of this continuous stream of updates from friends and acquaintances. Is this just too much information to deal with? As with Friendfeed, there’s both an upside and a downside. On the up, such services lets you track lots of your closest friends’ core activities. On the downside, they require that users deal with even more noise than each social network or site already demand.
However, a feature of Xumii called “groups” made me believe that it may work well as a filter and be very useful at the same time. “Groups” can be collections of any people, be it family, friends or aquaintances. “Groups” lets you send one message to all of them. At the same time it lets you view any messages coming from this select group. The “group” feature may sound trivial, but it’s actually valuable if you imagine, for example, how hard it is to organize groups on an evening out. Imagine messaging 10 friends to meet for dinner at your favorite restaurant, then being able to discuss the plan as a group on Xumii.
Xumii also has a public “wall,” a page of the site that lets you and your friends leave comments for each other in one central place.
The screenshots below hopefully illustrate the ease of the flow for a user when they want to add various data into chat. With both services, most of the main features take only 2-3 steps. This ease-of-use sets many mobile-only networks apart from their online competition.
Early indicators suggest that the “feeds” will enjoy success with users. Xumii has participated in an independent focus group run by Nokia in Singapore and won in all categories, as I’ve previously written. Xumii is already in private beta and launches its public beta this Friday.
Jibe launched its private beta today, that include access to Facebook news feeds. The company is planning to add Bebo and MySpace in the coming weeks. Jibe has arranged special private beta invitations for VentureBeat, which you can get here.
Eric Eldon contributed to this article.
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