Joost has now officially launched to the public, moving from a Beta testing stage to one which makes the IPTV service available to everyone, at least in principle.
It has been more than 5 months since I first began testing the invite-only beta of Joost, which has since accumulated 250+ channels and 15,000+ television shows.
Although the Joost software has been updated now to version 1.0, the service makes sure to state that “Joost is still Beta software — there’s a lot more work to be done before we’re satisfied, and yes, you may find a bug or two.”
In the time that Joost has been in beta, it managed to go from promising to a poorly-planned disaster in my point of view. Now, Joost has received some cosmetic changes as well as a host of new features. Will this be enough to put Joost back ahead of the competition though?
The Competition Has Hotted Up
Since April (which is when I first began testing of Joost) I have seen several new IPTV services pop up offering some major competition to Joost. Microsoft is in on the action, as well as Babelgum, LiveStation, Miro, WiTV and, my personal favorite, VeohTV.
Although Veoh does not have quite as large of a selection as Joost claims to, it loads quickly and does not slow down my PC, which is more than I can say for Joost.
I have been having problems with Joost for quite a while, and although the interface looks better now, the bandwidth problems appear to still exist, even after my upgrade to the new version. The channel guide sports a new look and Joost also displays featured content on their website, now that anyone can sign up.
New Social Networking Features
Perhaps the only interesting news for this service is the addition of new features, which Joost is hoping will build the social aspect among the growing Joost community.
To allow sharing of available video content, the service has introduced Joost Links, which are the crossover point between the Web environment and the desktop Joost experience.
A Joost Link is a URL like http://joost.com/0440003 that can either link directly to a video or a channel within the Joost software.
Joost provides thousands of hours of video content that can be streamed on demand to Joost viewers all around the world. But how can you find your way through this huge collection? Enter Joost Links.
Each piece of content on Joost has an associated Web page, allowing viewers to link, blog, tag or cross-reference these pages so that the collective power of the Joost community can be harnessed for everyone’s benefit.
Users can get even more social by blogging about the content they are watching, via a widget within the software. As seen in the screenshot below, a transparent overlay window keeps the video playback visible in the background.
Expect to see more third-party Joost widgets appear also, as Joost has now launched its developer site as well, which does a good job of explaining the behind-the-scenes detail of the service.
Although Joost was not quite ready for the public in my opinion, it is now out there for all to use. The Joost team should be more worried about the overloaded P2P architecture that needs help rather than just about providing a pretty interface.
Michael Garrett is a contributing author discussing the social networking world, his work can be found on Profy.com
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