05 November, 2009

New Orkut design copies many of Facebook's features

New Orkut

Orkut has rolled out a new design to some users, and has given the ability to invite others to it, à la Gmail / Google-Wave. There is an entry in the Orkut Support Section which claims that the new interface is faster & simpler, and will make it easier to follow your friends' updates. From the listing of features, it appears that Orkut has copied many of Facebook's features to make the UI more streamlined. And I'm glad they did!

The upgrade adds the ability to comment on friends' updates, and to change the colour scheme of your profile page. But here is the most exciting feature that they are adding to Orkut : with the new version, you will be able to do Audio/Video Chat with your friends! This will probably require the installation of a plugin like the one used in Gmail. There is also the option to do a conference chat.

(Update: The plugin is needed, but if you have it installed and working in Gmail, you don't need to do that again. It just works. No option to set status though. Only the pre-set statuses 'Available', 'Busy' & 'Invisible' and the option to sign out of chat are available.)

Orkuteers will be able to select multiple photos for uploading at once, and also rotate them if needed. All your contacts' activity notifications will be available through a unified what's new section, which will also have the ability to play the videos added by your contacts - exactly how Facebook's 'News Feed' works.

The new version also adds a link header on top like the ones on top of Gmail & Google Docs, allowing users to navigate to other Google properties.

It also looks like they are integrating the scrapbook into the home page, thus making it more like Facebook's wall posts, but I'm not sure about this. The help page says that "The 'scrap' feature lets you post directly to their profile pages". What exactly that means is yours to figure out; your guess would be as good as mine. (See Update below)

As a web developer, I'm happy to hear that in the new version, Orkut has also joined the growing list of large sites which have stopped supporting the IE6 (Internet Explorer 6) browser. They suggest that users should "upgrade to a supported browser" by "download[ing] the latest versions of Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer 8".

Update: I'm in! Using the new design now. They have 'Ajax'-ified the interface, so all sections (scraps, photo albums, fav. videos, testimonials etc.) appear in the home page itself. The friends list and communities list are now scrollable, and shows all your friends/communities. You can also narrow-down the list with search-as-you-type. Aesthetics could have been better though.. I miss the old Orkut already.

Update 2: Apparently, this isn't news. The orkut blog had announced it last week. Can't believe I missed that... :p

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