Digg has finally launched the much anticipated new version of its website - known as Digg 4. Although a beta version has been available to a small number of users for a while, only now has the full website been unleashed on the public. So, what can we expect from Digg 4?

First launched in December 2004, Digg is a social website that relies entirely on user-generated content and enables readers to vote stories up or down. This is known as "digging" or "burying" stories, with only the most "dugg" stories from those submitted each day, appearing on the front page. The website has been subject to constant tweaks and improvements, with apps for both iPhone and Android being launched earlier in 2010.

The main change with version 4.0 is the integration with the major social networking sites, along with a spiffy redesign, that's not too dissimilar to Twitter. The new version enables you to find friends through your existing Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. Along with this, relatively major change in feel, Digg has introduced a brand new feature called My News.

My News

If you're joining the site for the first time, you'll be offered a list of suggested followers. Once you've browsed the directory and chosen who to follow, you'll land on My News, which is the new default homepage for Digg story submissions, diggs and comments of the people you're following, in real time. Within each story you'll be able to see any of your friends that dugg it and any comments that they may have left. You can also choose to view either the most recent stories or the top stories from the past 24 hours and, on the right hand side of the My News page, there's even the top stories from the last 24 hours as according to the people in your social circle. Of course, if you don't want My News as your homepage, you can simply switch back to the old-style Top News, which will show you the hottest stories from around the globe.

Another major improvement is that it's now much easier to submit stories to Digg, simply by pasting the URL into the "Digg it" box that appears at the top of every page. If it hasn't already been submitted you'll be required to pen a quick description, and then you can sit back and relax.

Lastly, the boffins at Digg have also corrected a niggling annoyance from the old system in that when you click on the news stories on the homepage, you're now taken instantly to the original article, rather than through to the Digg page for that story first. What's more, it's now also easier to manage your profile with the Settings link offering up a clear summary of your profile.

On its launch, the new version seems to have been plagued by a few gremlins in the system, leading to an inevitable backlash from disgruntled Digg fans. It seems that the site was having trouble coping with the vast amount of traffic, coupled with all the changes, with Digg's official Twitter feed stating:

"Hey all - hold steady. Thanks for all your interest in the new Digg. We're adding more capacity (bring it!)".

Certainly, when we tried it here at Pocket-lint, we were greeted with Digg's version of the Twitter Fail Whale, instead featuring an ox trying to drag a trailer with a broken axel.

As well as that, a vast number of die-hard Diggers are seemingly outraged at the changes, particularly the social media aspects, and have vowed never to use the site again. So, it seems that the big cheeses at Digg have put all their eggs in one friend-shaped basket by assuming that everyone that uses their site belongs to, or indeed wants to belong to, at least one social network. Having said that, for the massive amount of people that use such sites, it seems to be a very canny move, particularly when you look at the way that Twitter has become a mine of information, thanks to all the news stories that are being tweeted and retweeted. Whether it works as well for Digg remains to be seen.

Have you tried out Digg 4 yet? If so, let us know what you think in the space below.