This morning AOL launched myAOL, a group of three services wrapped up into one customizable page. MyAOL is made up of three services: myPage, a customizable start page akin to Pageflakes or Netvibes; Mgnet--an audiovisual mashup of news; and Favorites--which for all intents and purposes is a Web-based RSS reader. All three offer various ways of browsing, reading, and discovering news and Web content.
Since most users are already familiar with the concepts of myPage and Favorites, the real surprise here is Mgnet. This is one of the cooler things I've seen lately, and somewhat similar to Google's recently released Google News image browser. Users can pick out topics they like or are interested in, and Mgnet will pull up a small array of images linked up with story headlines. Clicking one brings up the story description in a separate pane, and users are able to vote it up or down (a la Reddit) as well as see related news stories (which are powered by Sphere).
In addition to providing stories it thinks you'll be interested in, Mgnet also keeps track of "what's hot," a small list of the most-clicked and voted-on stories. I found this more interesting than the actual AOL front page, since it's a little more visually stimulating. The one missing piece in this system is a way to see how user voting is affecting each story, something AOL will likely add later down the line.
Favorites is also impressive. As an RSS reader it's well-equipped. There's a fairly extensive listing of prepicked feeds from a variety of Web sites. There's also the option to add your own feeds, either with a straight RSS address, or by searching by URL. To keep track of your various feeds, you can set up folders, a little bit like Google Reader. You can also go in and reorder feeds with simple dragging and dropping. The one missing piece is a trashcan to delete feeds you don't want anymore, which instead is handled in a separate feeds manager.
AOL's got a pretty solid lineup of Web apps in one spot with myAOL. What it lacks in true originality, it makes up for in execution, as all three services are simple to use and feature-rich.
See more screens below.… Read more