AOL unveiled its social aggregator and publisher, Lifestream, as part of its instant messenger platform last Fall. Now they’re launching a stand-alone site at lifestream.aol.com. After it appears they’ve failed with Bebo, this social venture may have a chance of success, in the opinion of TechCrunch at least—they’re saying, “This is what Google Buzz should have been.”
Like most social aggregators, Lifestream gathers content from several social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, Delicious, Digg, Flickr, YouTube. Lifestream uses existing friend lists on those social networks, so users don’t have to recompile their friend lists. Users can also cancel updates from entire networks, users or users on networks (i.e. ignore your friend’s Twitter stream but keep following his Facebook). It’s also integrated with Facebook Connect, so there’s no separate login, and users can publish back to social networks from the platform.
Lifestream also has a network of its own, and plans integration with Google Buzz in the future. TechCrunch doesn’t mention whether the service automatically hides duplicate messages—for example, your friends who have their Twitter statuses automatically publish to Facebook, too.
And then there’s the mobile platform: the website is compatible with mobiles, but Lifestream also has AIR, iPhone and Android apps. The mobile apps auto-note location, and you can use them to post pictures.
The Lifestream product is simple, intuitive and really, really useful. Frankly it’s what Google Buzz should have been – both an independent social network on its own, but very deep integration into all of the other social networks you are likely to use daily. It’s nice to see actual innovation coming out of Aol.
In a time of more and more fragmentation, I think many people are looking for a product like this. If Lifestream is really as easy and seamless as TechCrunch says, and if it can gain acceptance, it could be the product AOL needs to turn its social fortunes around.
What do you think? Will you give it a shot?