Bitly is building out its service with an eye toward doing more than just shortening links. With a major redesign of its website rolled out Tuesday and its first iPhone app, the service is making it easier to save, share and organize content.
Shortened links are now called bitmarks and they can be shared using improved privacy controls that allow for both private and public sharing via Facebook, Twitter and email. Users can now log-in through Facebook and Twitter, which speeds up sharing on those networks, and they can see what their friends are sharing across different social networks. They also get a faster search experience for finding older bitmarks. The bitmarks can be tagged with notes and hashtags for better retrieval later.
The curation tool Bitly bundles, introduced in 2010, has been improved, allowing users in a group to see which curator added certain bitmarks. It also offers the ability to leave comments on individual bitmarks in the bundles.
Bitly is rolling out a new Chrome bookmarklet extension for people to easily save and share links. And for the first time, Bitly is launching an iPhone app that will allow users to share more easily from a smartphone. The iPhone app lets people get quick access to their saved links and creates a mobile Web-optimized view of content, kind of like Instapaper.
The redesign has confused some regular users who aren’t clear on how to use the new site. Anthony De Rosa, a Reuters columnist complained about not being to easily shorten a link on Bitly though his Twitter followers helped him through the redesign.
The service has already helped people save 25 billion links since its launch in 2008 and is used daily to share almost 100 million links. The additions are part of a larger effort to make Bitly a hub for saving and sharing content on the Web, said Matthew Rothenberg, Bitly’s head of product. He said some of the new features were available previously, but the redesign helped surface them to make it easier for Bitly users to take full advantage of them. He said the goal is to fix the fragmented way most people share and save links and content online.
“Right now, it’s not an optimized experience. If I bookmark something, I might not be on the same computer or phone later to share it. Or I’m cutting and pasting into Twitter and Facebook,” Rothenberg said. “We’re trying to be a hub in the sense that we want to make that base use case of I find something on the web and want to save or share it, we want to be the best tool to be able to do that.”