The personal startpage Backstit.ch launched today as a public beta. It basically aims to fill the gap that iGoogle will be leaving once Google retires the service on November 1, 2013. It will compete with established services such as Netvibes or My Yahoo, so lets see what it has to offer right now.
Once you have signed up you can either browse through a walk through of sorts to get started creating your own personal startpage on the Internet, or skip that and use all of the features the service is currently making available. A click on catalog on the left displays the various modules that the service is making available.
The current version concentrates on social networking, news, photos and shopping related modules that you can add to your startpage.
- News: a selection of popular news sites, including New York Times, Yahoo! News or NBC News, as well as tech blogs such as Mashable, TechCrunch or Engadget. You can also add RSS feeds to the startpage or use the search form to find a site you are interested in. Ghack's found in the search, so all is good in this regard.
- Social: concentrates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with options to see updates, posts and various other account related or public information posted on those sites.
- Shopping: Groupon, Woot and a handful of other deals related sites are available.
- Photos: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and photos shared on Tumblr can be added to the startpage.
Each module that you add to the startpage comes with configuration options. News for instance can be filtered by categories you are interested in and words that the news need to contain.
You can move around the modules on the screen to suit your own taste. You can also switch to the threads tab where news are sorted by date and time and not source. You will however find that news, photos, shopping and social are not mixed but available independently on the page.
You can click on any item listed on your personal startpage to open it right on the site, but with options to go to the site the article was published on to access all of the contents right on the site.
Backstit.ch is currently a beta product and as such likely not feature complete. It is currently missing features that I'd expect a startpage service to offer, including:
- Import of opml files
- Sharing options
- Custom tabs
- Widgets or gadgets like weather reports, calculator, currency converter
- Internet search
It would also be nice if you could make a page public, for instance to share it with friends or colleagues.