Microsoft has opened up So.cl, its attempt at a social search app, to the public but the app is still in its beta testing phase.
While So.cl, at first glance, looks a lot like your average social network, the folks at Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, want to steer clear of this association. While the platform’s social features are are expected – users can comment, like (which So.cl calls “This makes me smile”), and use tagging features – So.cl is supposed to be Microsoft’s reimagining of how users search.
Microsoft has aggressively promoted Bing as a social search engine. If you’ve ever used Bing before, you’ve seen its social side bar reserved for recommending content shared by your friends and influencers to follow. The main difference with So.cl is that it focuses on image-based searches. It’s possible that the platforms doubles as an experiment to test out new types of content discovery – which isn’t terrible surprising given that FUSE Labs is Microsoft’s research division.
Each image on the platform has been curated by users, so clicking on these images takes you directly back to the source. Users can collectively curate all images into “Posts” that tie into an overarching theme. These themes could be anything, from food-focused to the latest tech news to updates on a music group.
Overall there’s an undeniable similarity to Pinterest’s design and format. But according to the blog post published on FUSE Labs, researchers were giving its users what they wanted – and that just so happens to resemble Pinterest. Of course, the tile trend is an overarching theme of the Web right now.
If you were a So.cl user before, which means that you were either a student or a Microsoft employee, the following updates were made to the platform:
Posts – Viewing the rapid feed on Socl is faster and, well, just better. The home screen is all about the beautiful posts you create (often in just seconds, using the new post creator!). You can choose to see the posts two-columned or three, so it’s less likely you’ll miss out on anything. And now you can see the posts even if you are not signed in or are new to Socl.
Interests – The crowd-sourced interest gallery is more discoverable, helping you socialize with like-minded people over topics you care about.
People/Me – People finding and following can be done via posts, the new people gallery, or from a person’s page. Everyone on Socl has an updated page where profile information, posts, interests, people and parties can be viewed together in one place. Check out your “me page” today, or if you’re new to Socl, sign in and we’ll create a page for you.
Parties – Create a playlist and watch videos with others in Socl, and chat together as you watch.