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Bitly redesign adds bundles, bitmarks...and bewilderment?

Like its cartoon pufferfish mascot, link-shortening service Bitly has expanded, now offering a bookmark feature and social media integration.

Not just about shortening, sharing, and tracking links anymore, Bitly is aiming to become a sort of social service, yesterday rolling out features like recommendations based on friends and bundled links to be shared across social networks.

Those simply looking for a shortened link can follow the "add a bitmark" option on the website. But Bitly wants users to know that they can accomplish so much more now. Adding to the classic save-and-go bookmarks, the site now allows bundling of webpages based on themes, and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and email. There is also an option to make links public or private.

The service is being billed as faster and easier to find and share information, according to the website, which also announced the launch of a Chrome browser extension - bookmarklet - and its first iPhone app, which allows users to save, view, and share bitmarks from anywhere.

Last year, the organisation built a mobile-friendly HTML site, but has not yet released a smartphone application for any operating system but Apple.

Other alterations include profile privacy for more control, realtime bookmarks, search results based on URL, title, and notes, as well as enhanced social media use.

Since 2008, the service has saved 25 billion links and shares almost 100 million links daily, according to Bitly, which no longer identifies itself with a dot separating the "bit" and "ly" in its name.

"Moving forward we'll be making fast, incremental improvements based on your feedback," Bitly said on its website.

So far, the feedback hasn't been overwhelmingly positive, based on comments on the Bitly blog post announcing the changes. Many users complained that what once was a simple, easy-to-use tool is now convoluted and messy.

So much for being "the single best place for you to save and share your links and to discover interesting things from your friends and the entire web," as Bitly wrote on its website.

Link-shortening sites are available on various platforms, including Twitter and Google, and services like Instapaper, Evernote, Pocket and Springpad also allow users to save links and content.