First created purely as a research project, Microsoft’s social network site So.cl has now launched with a new user interface offering beefed-up features, in a sign that the company is keen to keep the cogs turning on its social experiment.
Based on daily feedback from So.Cl’s global community, the site has updated its collage feature, added in the option to create dynamic media via an app called BLINK and is allowing users to make their own memes and share videos. (All of these links are clearly visible at the top of the So.Cl website.)
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So.Cl is incorporating an imaging app called BLINK, a project from Microsoft Research Redmond, that allows users to take a burst of images – 16 shots that start from before you press the shutter to about a second afterward – and creates a photo flipbook, known as a “BLINK.”
The BLINK app can be used with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices. The original app, which debuted in early February, didn’t have the feature of a flipbook. The current BLINK also comes with what is called “Cliplets” for Windows 8 devices, in which you can overlay a dynamic, videolike animation atop a static background – like a photograph, but with the object in the foreground in motion. Cliplets are created from bits of video – 10 seconds or less.
In a bid to appeal to the younger crowd (after all when it started, So.Cl was touted as being targeted at students), the social network has also incorporated a meme-generator called Picotale. All you have to do is type a few words – kind of like a status update – then click Go within Picotale, and an image is generated to match your words.
The ability to create collages came from the original So.Cl, but with the new interface users can upload personal images from a device to mix and match them with content from the Web.
So.Cl is also moving into video sharing by allowing users to create video playlists. Content can be grabbed from sites such as Bing, YouTube and Vimeo to be assembled into a collection that can be viewed, discussed, and shared with people you know and people you might like to meet.
The So.Cl project came out of Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, a division of the company that is working on other research tools that compliment social networking sites like Facebook. It was opened to the public late last year.
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