Home Vinehub: New Social Network Connector to Aggregate, Update Multiple Services

Vinehub: New Social Network Connector to Aggregate, Update Multiple Services

When Google announced the launch of the new Buzz API yesterday at the Google I/O developers conference, I spotted an application in their partner lineup which hadn’t yet crossed my radar: Vinehub. After having initially spotted their logo in the Google blog post containing details regarding the official announcement, I clicked through to the Buzz Featured Apps page to check it out. But here, the service was nowhere to be found.

A visit to Vineub.com satisfied my curiosity, though. It appears that Vinehub is a new social network aggregation application, in the same line as FriendFeed or even Buzz itself, except with one major difference: it doesn’t just pull in updates for liking and commenting, it sends them out too.

Vinehub: Feels Like Alpha, Claims Beta

After testing the application, I can see why it wasn’t included on Google’s list. Vinehub is clearly still in beta. In fact, they should probably call it alpha, based on my experiences.

The service currently supports adding Facebook and Twitter accounts – at this point, the only Buzz integration offered is the addition of a “Buzz This” button on posts.

After announcing a partnership with the on-demand data center and hosting services company NetDepot in November, a press release went out promising MySpace integration, too, but that doesn’t appear to have launched yet.

It took me four different tries over the course of two days to finally get the Facebook account added to my stream. For whatever reason, it simply would not take. I had to remove the application’s Facebook permissions and the re-add my account again and again before it finally worked.

When at last I managed to get Facebook messages to appear in my stream, the “like” and “comment” buttons beneath the status messages were un-clickable. That is, I could click them, but nothing happened – I was simply redirected back up to the top of the page. Another feature that wasn’t ready for primetime, it appears.

Some Facebook messages came in entirely blank, only showing an avatar, name and date.

On the other hand, Twitter functionality (reply and retweet) did work.

Could be Great, Too Soon to Tell

However, pre-judging Vinehub now based on these issues would be unfair. It’s obvious that the service is still actively being developed, and isn’t ready yet for everyday use. In fact, some of the links at the top of the Vinehub homepage don’t even work yet – they display a “coming soon” message when clicked. Plus, the support email address is also non-functional – an email I sent them for more information was kicked back.

That said, the promised functionality is appealing. Instead of simply aggregating your networks like FriendFeed and Buzz do, Vinehub wants you to be able to post back to them and use the essential features they offer, including replies and retweets on Twitter, commenting and liking on Facebook and “buzzing” posts from one network to the next. In the future, the company plans to offer more functionality, too, including editing profiles, viewing friends’ updates, viewing and sharing photos and adding contacts.

Another feature in the works is a pro-level account which will allow business and power users an ad-free version of Vinehub with up to 5 accounts per social network. That could be handy for those tasked with keeping track of the social media efforts within an organization. But today, there are several far more robust Twitter clients like CoTweet and HootSuite which offer more features than Vinehub. In its present form, Vinehub doesn’t even come close to competing with those services. Unless Vinehub can ramp up its offerings to be on par with what’s already out there, it will have a hard time gaining business users, despite the other services it offers.

Again, though, it’s too soon to tell what kind of application Vinehub will be – it has to get built first. In the meantime, we’ll definitely keep our eye on it, both on the site and via Twitter.

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