When I received this review request in my mailbox, I thought the name of the website sounded very familiar. Doing a quick search through Google, I found that I had already written about it before. The difference is that back then, the site wasn’t ready for primetime. Now, Next2Friends has launched (in beta) and we can actually know what the social networking site is all about.
Video is the Next Big Thing
It used to be that just having your own place on the Internet was cool enough. Soon afterwards, it became important to share your experiences through a series of pictures. These days, it has quickly become apparent that video is the future of blogging and it is also the future of social networking.
Whereas other social networks may include videos as part of their package, Next2Friends puts online videos at the forefront of what the site is all about. The first thing that you’ll notice when you hit the homepage is one of the featured videos. Scrolling down the page, you’ll see a list of the latest videos and the number of votes each one has received.
As you can imagine, each user is given his or her own profile page as well. Shown below is the profile page for evilstar. The profile is broken down into several collapsible sections, including About Me, My Embedded Content, Photo Galleries, Friends, and Videos. Just like Facebook, each user also has a wall for public conversations.
Live Video Broadcasting from Your Mobile Phone
What truly sets Next2Friends apart from other social networking sites is your ability to create a live video broadcast from your mobile phone. All you have to do is download the Next2Friends application onto your phone, go through the usual configuration stuff, and then you can effectively do the lifecasting thing through your phone.
Live mobile broadcasting sounds like it could be a pretty neat feature, especially since Next2Friends Live lets you use the data connection on your mobile phone. There are other video streaming sites out there, but — to my knowledge — they’re designed more for webcams than they are for cell phones.
Because Next2Friends is still in beta, the mobile application is not yet available for all cell phones. If you’re rocking a BlackBerry or an HTC smartphone, for example, you’re out of luck. As it stands, mobile phone support is limited to certain models from LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.
The Evolution of Community and Blogging
Along with the live video broadcasting and the ability to save your video broadcasts for future viewing (you can embed them on external sites), Next2Friends also comes with a few other community features. As I mentioned earlier, each user is given his or her own profile page. These profiles, found through the Community tab, can be sorted based on first name, last name, or nickname.
Strangely, regardless of which sorting method you use, the list ends after the 50th page, even if you haven’t reached the end of all the profiles. If your name is Zach Yurechko and your nickname is Yuri, this means that you will never be seen through the Community pages. This is a simple glitch in the code that has to be fixed.
Further to the community aspect is the Ask function. Here, you can post a picture or a video and then ask the Next2Friends community for some sort of response. Maybe you’re out shopping for some new clothes and want to gather the opinion of your friends. The Next2Friends Ask feature allows you to do that.
To keep up with the latest developments in the world of Next2Friends, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Next2Friends Blog. The design of the blog has been much improved since the last time I saw it and it seems to get updated quite frequently. Strangely, the main page of Next2Friends is still highlighting an old contest. The developers should really update the front page of Next2Friends as often as they update the blog.
Who’s Going to Pay My Data Charges?
Despite having a few quirky elements and some minor design issues, Next2Friends really offers a rather interesting concept. It’s still in beta, so I’m sure they’ll welcome any feedback they can get. Now if only I could figure out who is going to pay the massive data bill that will result from a few days’ worth of live video broadcasting…