Anybeat: Your New Digital “Third Place” Online

Since the advent of social networks such as Facebook, we’ve all pretty much had a second persona and an online hangout spot where you can trade messages, secrets, photos or just general chit-chat with pretty much anyone. It doesn’t stop there either: sites such as Virtual Life and Habbo have even tried to create virtual worlds where you create an avatar and go exploring to meet new people. Who’d have thought that was possible when the internet came around?

If you’re on the hunt for somewhere new to hang out online besides Facebook and that ageing MySpace profile you created several years ago, then Anybeat is a great place to start. It is designed as an online community where you can interact with people either near to where you live or from around the world. Will it replace Facebook or Twitter? Most certainly not. But if you want to share ideas and chat to some interesting people then it is certainly worth a look.

Let’s delve deeper into Anybeat and see what it has to offer.

First Thoughts

The first thing that strikes you when you fire up Anybeat’s home page is the absolute simplicity of it all. You are greeted by a simple homepage asking you to state your desired user name (which can be changed later) as well as a link to Anybeat’s directory (allowing you to search for specific people based on a number of factors, including gender, age, occupation, location, political views and so on) and the public square view, which we will have a look at in a bit.

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The home page for Anybeat

Once you’ve picked out a username, you can connect your new Anybeat account with Facebook and/or Twitter then you will be asked to pick out 5 topics that you are like so that Anybeat can determine which content would be of interest to you. There are some pre-defined ones (such as music, technology, current events and so on) however you can enter your own by typing them into the text box at the bottom of the screen.

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Choosing topics that are of interest to you helps Anybeat show you relevant content

Once you’ve chosen your interests and entered your e-mail address and date of birth, the home screen of Anybeat pops up, which displays all the content it finds relevant to your interests.

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Your own personalised home screen in Anybeat, showing content relevant to you

Here, you can browse posts via category via the toolbar that runs across the top and filter posts either by their language (currently, Anybeat supports 10 languages, including French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian) or by their posting date, most likes (on Anybeat) and most comments. I found that filtering posts by their language was extremely slow at the time of writing – even after 2 minutes no posts had shown up (although this may have been due to a temporary server downtime or my slow internet connection, not necessarily Anybeat itself).

Viewing Posts

When you click on a post in Anybeat, you can view it in a bit more detail, including the author and any comments on it from other Anybeat users. You can like and comment on posts very easily (similar to Facebook) and you can also share the post via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

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Viewing a post in Anybeat

Clicking on “Repost” is similar to retweeting, and means that any people who are friends with you on Anybeat will see this post as well and can click and comment on it. Related posts to the one you are viewing are displayed in a simple list down the left-hand side, allowing you to discover new and exciting content extremely easily.

Creating A New Post

Creating a new post in Anybeat is easy and takes just a few seconds. You simply click on “Create Post”, give your new post a title and enter some interesting content. You can give your post up to 3 tags (which helps Anybeat categorise it easier) and you can also add a picture to it for more effect.

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Creating a new post in Anybeat takes absolutely no time at all

If you’ve connected your Facebook and Twitter profiles to Anybeat, then you can choose whether your new post is automatically shared upon submitting.

Your Profile Page

You can create your own profile page on Anybeat where you can upload a picture of yourself and tell other users a bit about yourself and your interests. This helps people in determining a bit more about you and whether you are worth following or not. It also helps users with similar interests to connect with you easier. You can choose an Anybeat-designed profile page or you can upload a background image of your own.

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Editing your profile and adding your interests helps other Anybeat users discover you easier

Things I Don’t Like

My main gripe with Anybeat is its layout – on the public square page (featured in the screenshot above) the page looks very cluttered and isn’t very easy going on my tired eyes. The site is nicely designed, however in my opinion a little more effort could have gone into the reading experience, which isn’t a patch on other websites such as Readability. I also feel that the layout (especially your Feed page) strongly resembles Facebook, a similar page design that bugs me, so no points for originality here.

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The Feed section of Anybeat, which strongly resembles Facebook's "News Feed"

I also feel that Anybeat has slightly ostracised itself by not having the ability to pooling external sources. Content shown has originated solely from their users, and not from other websites and although there are plenty of posts from Anybeat’s own members, it can slightly limit your experience with the site.

Final Thoughts

Anybeat is a great concept for a website however I feel that its whole execution is not really up to scratch. Although the actual mechanism of the site is great and you can discover new information really easily (and that’s actually of interest to you), this is marred slightly by the user experience.

The whole layout of the site doesn’t quite have that air of sharpness and I feel that the only thing lacking is an interface refresh, which would make it an absolutely top class site to use. But if you are prepared to gloss over this fact then Anybeat really is a great site which will have you hooked for hours.


Summary

An online community to help you find new information based on your interests.

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