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LinkedIn tries again to keep people connected, with a redesigned app

The company's Connected app uses a cards interface to deliver updates on people's contacts

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LinkedIn is trying again to build a service on mobile that helps keep people in touch, even when they're not actively job hunting.

On Thursday the company launched a redesigned standalone app to do that, called Connected. It's an overhaul of the company's Contacts app, which launched last year but was not as interactive as the new service. People who have that app downloaded will be prompted to upgrade to the new app on Thursday.

The new app will focus on bringing updates about people's connections to their mobile device. Events like job changes, work anniversaries or mentions in the news will show up as cards that people can swipe through left to right. Swipe up on a card to dismiss it. Reach the end of a series of cards, and LinkedIn might recommend some other people to connect with.

Users can interact with the cards like they might a Facebook post, such as with a "like," a comment, or even a follow-up phone call.

The app is available in English for iOS, but plans are in the works for Android and international versions. People do not have to manually add again their existing contacts; they show up when they sign in with their LinkedIn credentials.

LinkedIn's main service already provides updates on people in the feed on mobile and desktop, and through email notifications, in addition to content like news articles, sponsored posts, and job suggestions.

But the cards interface of the Connected app, and its singular focus on people, is different. The app won't let users, for instance, edit their profiles, search for jobs, or follow companies. Think of it like checking Facebook or Twitter to see what your friends are up to, but in a professional context.

David Brubacher, head of relationships products at LinkedIn, called it a new way for people to invest in their network of connections. Specifically, LinkedIn hopes the app will give people an easier way to keep in touch with their connections, particularly if they don't have time for a face-to-face meeting.

"This app helps you invest in your relationships today, so opportunities blossom for you tomorrow," the company said in its announcement.

LinkedIn, in other words, is trying to make its service more of a destination like Facebook or Twitter, rather than a means to an end. That's a tough goal though for a site aimed at professionals. Whether LinkedIn's new service takes off may depend on whether people really want to check another app to stay up to date on people who may not all be close friends.

But the app also aims to provide some smarts, by letting people sync their phone's contacts and calendar. If you enable notifications in the app, you can receive push notifications like reminder alerts before meetings, or prompts to follow up or connect with people on LinkedIn after.

Users will be able to adjust these notifications in their settings. "It's not our goal to bombard you with push notifications throughout the day," said Vinodh Jayaram, LinkedIn's director of engineering.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com



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