Social search company Wowd has introduced a new tool for advanced Facebook search, and it’s a desktop app. Actually, it’s a desktop app that runs in your browser..but more on that later.
What Wowd promises is a tool to “filter Facebook.” It lets you create custom feeds, read personalized summaries, remove game spam from your News Feed and search your social network with advanced tools.
But will Wowd “wow” you?
Wowd Does it Old-School: Installs Software Locally
To start off, it’s important to understand what Wowd is not. It’s not a Facebook app in the traditional sense of the word. That is, you don’t interact with Wowd on Facebook itself, a choice that seems a little odd given the service’s focus.
Instead, Wowd is desktop software – yes, the kind that you actually have to download, install and run on your comptuer’s hard drive.
The software (Mac, Windows and Linux supported), once installed opens up a Web browser window pointed to http://localhost:8101, which is a directory on your own PC. The app runs in the browser window, allowing it to have the feel of a Web-based service, but both it and the data it creates are saved locally.
After providing Wowd the proper permissions via a Facebook authorization screen, the app gathers data by parsing your profile. This takes some time, at least it did for me and my 200-some friends. If you only have a few seconds to spare, now is not the time to test out Wowd.
Your News Feed, Filtered
The service’s primary function is its filtered News Feed. It automatically marks game updates (like Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc.) as spam and hides them from view. It also lets you filter by topic or keyword and create a feed just for those terms. For example, you could create a feed for “Droid” to find friends discussing the latest Android phone or “Inception” to find people talking about the hot new movie from Christopher Nolan.
While that’s a nice option, we suppose, it’s also a baked-in feature in Facebook itself, even if it’s under-utilized. In Facebook, you enter in a search term in the box at the top and instead of letting it default to the top result by hitting “Enter,” you click the link to “See More Results.” Here, one of the many filters present is “posts by friends.” Ta-da, News Feed filtered!
The difference is that, in Wowd’s implementation, these search queries can be saved as “custom feeds.” You can even be alerted via desktop notifications when new posts arrive. Perfect for data-mining your friends, we suppose.
There’s also an interesting (read: odd) bulletin-board type interface for reviewing your News Feed items. Birthday reminders, photos and “shout-outs” (status updates) are arranged as items pinned to a corkboard in a very MySpace-y widget sort of way. This is not a huge selling point for the app.
Wowd Not Wowing Me with its CPU, Memory Utilization
Finally, the fatal blow: the app killed my computer. No really, it did. Generally I scoff at reports of desktop apps being responsible for “slowing down PCs.” It’s usually a combination of malware, an unpatched system and a half-decade old OS that does that. But Wowd really slowed down my computer! At one point, it had eaten up over 30% CPU and over 740,000 K of memory. (For comparison purposes, the busiest tab in Chrome is at 98,000 K right now). I believe that the app was still busy archiving my profile data in the background and this isn’t indicative of how it usually performs, but considering how long it spiked, I eventually had to kill it in order to put up this post. I don’t think I’ll be returning.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I like Wowd’s base concept of customized and savable keyword-based feeds – what geek wouldn’t? But dealing with the first desktop app I’ve installed since TweetDeck reminds me of why I love the cloud – the processing power required is dealt with on their servers, not mine. And considering this PC is a few years old already, I need every spare cycle I can get.