If you’re a member of more than one social network, managing your connections and feeds can sometimes feel a touch overwhelming. Having to visit each site separately in order to view your feeds and updates can be rather tedious. What’s more, keeping track of multiple RSS feeds….it tends to get downright bloody confusing What’s more, if you want to share something to each of the networks you’re part of…chance are, you’ll have to visit each one individually.There are some applications that exist to facilitate inter-network sharing, but much of the time, they aren’t quite enough.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a dashboard from which you could view your social networks?
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Layers.
Layers is pretty much what I just described- it’s a dashboard application for Google Chrome from which you can view both your Facebook and your Twitter feeds, as well as any RSS feed you happen to add in to the application. You can view and reply to all your messages straight from the application. Essentially, it’s designed to make keeping track of social media far, far simpler.
The interface for Layers is pretty near top notch in design. Along the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see two tabs: All, and Channels.”All” is basically just what it sounds like- you’ll see a livestream of every single social network and RSS feed you happen to be keeping track of all mashed into one. In other words, Tweets will be right next to Facebook updates will be right next to Mashable posts.
Consequently, “Channels” lets you select a particular channel to focus on.Click on the channels tab, and you’ll see every social media channel you’re currently keeping track of- your Twitter stream, your Facebook news feed, and any other feeds you’re following. Each one will show one of the most recent updates to that particular stream. Clicking on one of the boxes will bring a up a new tab, containing updates for the feed. To the left of the feed will be a sidebar containing relevant icon shortcuts- messages, notifications, and latest news for Facebook; Timeline, Mentions, and messages for Twitter.
Now, here’s where the app gets kind of awesome.
Clicking on an individual item in the stream will display the item in the center of the screen. If there’s a link within the content, it’ll show the original post on a sidebar, and the content towards the center. It’s a great interface, and I’ve got no complaints about the layout.
To the bottom left is your settings menu and a “compose” button. Basically, it’ll let you post a message to one of the social networks registered with Layers.
The application functions more or less as advertised- you can keep track of all your RSS feeds and two of your major social networks from one place. All in all, pretty handy- but it’s not without its problems.
While the interface is rather excellent, it’s not without its problems. I noticed occasional lag while using the program, and the stream doesn’t scroll properly- the arrows that pop up on the left and right do nothing, meaning you’ll have to move through your updates with the mouse wheel. Don’t have a mouse wheel? You’re out of luck.
You’re probably wondering why I gave Layers a 3/5 here, aren’t you? After all, it sounds like it’s a pretty damn handy application to have around, doesn’t it? Well…yes and no. The fact that you can’t add other social networks/their logins to the application is, to me, a rather crippling flaw in the application. Yes, it’s a handy tool to keep track of all your RSS feeds, but it’s not the ‘one stop social networking solution’ that it makes itself out to be.
Also problematic is the lack of an out-of-app notification system. There’s no icon on the top to let you know when a notification specifically pertaining to you has surfaced on one of your networks- you’ll basically have to keep the application open at all times if you want to have a constant eye on what’s happening on your networks.
Futhermore, you’ll need to manually import RSS feeds. So if you’re using, say…Google reader, and you have about thirty or more feeds? Yeah, you’ll need to add each one individually. Ouch.
Final Score: 3/5
Don’t get me wrong- Layers isn’t a terrible application, and could most certainly prove useful for folks ingrained in social media. The interface is well-designed, and the idea behind the application is rather brilliant. Just the same…they could have done a lot more with it. The scrolling bug is rather annoying to deal with, and the fact that you can’t import multiple RSS feeds into one stream is something that could be considered a rather crippling flaw.
What’s more, the fact that it’s limited to Facebook and Twitter for social networks will be problematic for anyone who’s established on social networks other than those two (Google +, for example) and wants to follow -all- their social networks in one place. Further, some form of out-of-app notification system would be nice- the lack of one seems to be a pretty significant oversight.
I’m hoping they update it to add more features in the future- because for the time being, I think I might sit this one out.
You can download Layers from the Chrome Web Store.