I’m a huge fan of online social networking applications like 3bubbles (blog post) and Gabbly (blog post), and today I registered for a beta account with Itzle, a new app that provides much more than just a chat room. Itzle provides a virtual identity for chatting, including the ability to create your own custom character to represent you online. Right now you can only alter the characters hair, skin, pant, shirt and shoe colors and you’re stuck with it being a male. Besides having your own personalized character on screen for each page you also keep a profile and friends list. The profile can list lots of great data like your AIM, MSN, Yahoo, your web page, your blog, your bookmarks and a lot of other options. The best profile field has to be the Flickr support that will display your latest thumbnails from flickr in your profile. The presentation for Itzle is slick and innovative. Before I get into the details let me explain how Itzle works.
To use Itzle you must be using Firefox and register an account from their site. Currently they are in an early beta stage and are only have 653 spots left. Second, you use the Itzle bookmarklet and place it on your toolbar for easy access. When you’re visiting a page that you want to chat on click on the bookmarklet and it will ask for your login details through an Ajaxy transparent popup. After you log in it will redirect to the Itzle link for the page you are on. For example, pligg.com’s would be http://www.itzle.com/http://www.pligg.com/. This page will have the usual pligg.com page in the background and at the bottom an Itzle toolbar for chatting and managing settings. On the top part of the page with the web page appears any characters currently visiting that site. You will see your own character also on top of the page and you can direct him to stand on other parts of the page by left clicking anywhere on the page (besides where the links are of course).
From here on out are all of the innovative ideas that Itzle came up with. Let’s say that your on a big time website (lets say Digg.com for example) and there are 80 other characters talking. The page could become cluttered with chatters pretty fast for lots of the larger sites so Itzle came up with the bright idea of letting users create channels for sites. This way you could split up a site like Digg into sub-topics rather than one large general lobby room. You could have 16 channels, one for each of Digg’s categories, and never have to worry about the rooms becoming cluttered with people. You can also create private, invite-only channels where you can invite just your friends to talk. The third tab in the Itzle panel is for recommending sites. If you are on a website that you would like to recommend to all of your friends click “recommend this url” and it will recommend the current url to all of your friends.
Making friends with Itzle is pretty simple, when you find someone you like talking to just left-click on their character and “befriend” them. The friendship must be mutual though, so don’t expect to befriend the entire Itzle community. You can also view user’s profiles from this left click drop-down menu that appears when you click on characters. Your friends list is kept on one of the tabs on your Itzle panel and it divides your online friends from your offline friends. You will also see a link to “add a friend” from this panel tab and when you click on it it asks for a user name. If the user is currently offline he will be presented with a message the next time he logs in asking if he wants to be your friend.