View your social networks, email and media in one program: AVG MultiMi Beta

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As if we can’t get enough of social networking in general; i.e. having every moment of our lives commented on and “liked,” a new application has come to us promising to help reign in all those social networks and media sites into one smooth interface.

Currently in beta but promising to be free, AVG’s MultiMi is a social hub for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and much more.  “MultiMi is a cool new free desktop app that makes sharing and socializing across your email accounts and social networks a breeze.

Chat, swap photos, update your status, check your inboxes and calendar… all in one safe place.”  One can’t help think of Tweetdeck, but MultiMi does a little bit more…

An ambitious effort, to be sure, but let’s check out what this thing can do:

  • Access and update your social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter (No Google+ yet)
  • Index and search other sources of data: Google Docs, Local file system, Box.net
  • Reply to, write and review your email: POP3/IMAP, Hotmail, Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo
  • View and edit your events: Google Calendar, Facebook events
  • Search for and share your media: Picasa, Flickr, Local Media (photos/videos), YouTube
  • Chat: Facebook, Google Talk
  • View all of your contacts via an integrated address book
Multimi setup screen
MultiMi is an ambitious application…

As you can see, this thing has a lot of ways to keep you connected to your social *ahem* life.

The main pane:

The main window of MultiMi is laid out in a relatively easy-to-navigate format: The left pane controls what social network or info type you wish to look at, while the right shows you the content of the individual item you selected on the left.  More specifically, the left-pane is laid out with some default tabs in an accordion-style menu, offering up tabs like Social, Events, Media, Documents and Connections in a tree view.  Expanding those trees allows you to browse to your individual service, and then drill down into the status update/message you want to view.  You do also have the option to create your own tabs and organize further content under them.

To be honest, the layout is pretty cool, showing you a screen I can only compare to something between a standard Explorer view and a simplified Windows Metro interface.

Multimi home pane
Look at all the stuff!

While in the ‘Home’ view, you get a multi-paned view of your various content; the latest email, photos, popular contacts and social updates.  The ironic thing here is that while this is kind of cool, the nature of the amount of data that these social networks brings to you can easily be reduced to a shadow of what they really are: a window to a LOT of information.  Having a preview of three social updates when in reality thousands lie behind them, well…it’s deceptively underwhelming.

Sharing:

As with Tweetdeck, you can update your status against the various sites you aggregate.  You can share files, media, etc. to those sites with a simple click of the ‘Share’ button.  MultiMi does a decent job of determining what is and isn’t supported for sharing, depending on what site you wish to share to.

Notifications:

As with most other messaging applications, MultiMi is no different here, producing a toaster pop-up window at the bottom of your screen letting you know that one of your many social networks has received an update.

Searching:

You have the capability of searching all your aggregated content.  An interesting note, though – by default, your email content is searched going back ‘x’ days unless otherwise specified in your settings.  Especially for Gmail, this seems odd, considering the massive search capabilities granted to you by Google to get to your content…

MultiMi’s search doesn’t do a terrible job, but it’s not what I expected, at least at first…when you perform a search, MultiMi considers each friend’s social network account as a separate entity, so when you search for John Bell’s status updates, you’ll get a drop-down search box that will let you choose from John’s Facebook, Twitter and emails (etc.), respectively.  HOWEVER, you can go into your address book view and merge contacts from the various social networks and email addresses.  This essentially associates the various accounts so you only have to search once for John’s updates and you’ll see the aggregated results for those linked accounts.

There is a cool search “widget” located at the upper left-hand corner of the main window after executing your query. Using this, you can see the percentage of where your search results lie, via the 6 categories of Messages, Social, Events, Photos, Media and Documents.  Clicking on one of those categories filters your results accordingly.

Connections:

One feature that I was a little confused by was the ‘Connections’ tab.  Upon clicking this, I was presented with a picture of myself surrounded by various contacts that I communicate with on a regular basis.  Some were linked in expected fashion (for example, a couple mutual friends were linked), but then there were others that seemingly had no relationship.  So, I’m still trying to figure that one out…documentation is sparse with regards to this.

MultiMi Connections
…connections…how do they work?

Limitations:

Take these all with a grain of salt, this version is still in beta. 

  • I had issues connecting to my corporate  Exchange account – it would allow me to enter the configuration, but my account was nowhere to be found in the left-pane.
  • When I allowed MultiMi to connect to my Google calendar, it only indexed my main calendar, not the various others that my wife and I share.
  • Browsing for photos in local storage was a little …off.  Clicking on a folder didn’t necessarily bring me to the correct contents of that folder.  I expect this to be resolved once out of beta.
  • Performing aggregate searches (ironic, eh?) doesn’t work so well yet.  A search for “Jon Bell” qustodio doesn’t work, even though I know John posted something about it in his Twitter updates last week.

Likes:

  • Searching in Google Docs.  This was extremely handy
  • Ability to see all my photos from Picasa/Flickr/Facebook in one interface
  • Simple to navigate
  • Drag and drop sharing capabilities
  • Intelligence of upload/sharing of files, dependent upon destination network’s capabilities

Meh:

  • No support for Google+ or Dropbox (yet)
  • Search is a little clunky, advanced searches don’t work so well
  • Photo viewing on local storage is lacking, seems a little buggy

Even with it’s flaws, MultiMi is extremely useful and has a lot of potential, and as far as betas go, this is a pretty well polished piece of software.  I’m looking forward to using it more in the coming weeks/months.  Take a look here to review the features of the software in more detail.

Currently, MultiMi is only available for Windows, but tablet and Mac versions are supposedly in the works.  Download the beta here and try it out for yourself!