Last month, the social Web browser RockMelt, which was previously in private beta, was released to the public. RockMelt is an intriguing application that integrates social media into your Web browsing experience. The browser was developed by Eric Vishria and is backed by the founder of Netscape, Marc Andreessen.
RockMelt is a Chromium-based browser, which will look very familiar to Google Chrome users. It is not the first browser to incorporate social media, but it does offer different features than the recently discontinued Flock browser.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to download and install plug-ins and extensions to customize your browser, RockMelt may be for you.
Configuring RockMelt is quick and easy: Just download and launch the application, and connect your Facebook account.
Important note: RockMelt can be utilized only by users with a Facebook account who agree to authenticate.
Apps and feeds
Apps and feeds are located on the right side of the browser. This is where you can connect your Twitter account and add news feeds. I especially like the Twitter widget, which launches in an overlay and gives you access to core Twitter functionality such as mentions, direct messages and search.
Another useful widget: the "View Later" button. You can add any Web page to view later by clicking the icon in the browser address bar. Gmail and other Web-based email applications are noticeably absent here.
Profile and friends
At the top of the left-hand sidebar is your image and profile. Clicking your profile launches a status update where you can post to either Facebook or Twitter. Your friends are located directly beneath your profile, which you can sort by "online" or "favorites."
Facebook chat is streamlined into the browser and is initiated by selecting a friend from the sidebar. You can conduct multiple chats with different conversations neatly tucked away at the bottom of the browser’s status bar.
The toolbar is very similar to Google Chrome with a few additional features. A "Share" button is built into the GUI (Graphical User Interface) allowing you to quickly post content. The Search allows you to quickly preview results from Google in an overlay that also gives you the ability to view search results in another tab.
Customizing preferences in RockMelt couldn’t be easier. Take a look at "Edges" to customize your social media layout.
The RockMelt iPhone app is clean and simple, as you have come to expect with Apple’s iOS (operating system) apps, and includes most of the browser-based features except the ability to view your friends, which I thought had real value.
One of the best features of RockMelt is the synchronization. Feeds, bookmarks and the "view later" widget sync fast in the mobile app. Unfortunately, there is no iPad or Android app, and the RockMelt site states that they are currently working on these applications.
Competing against Apple, Google and Microsoft for browser market share will be a difficult challenge. Although many browser geeks can build a similar experience utilizing extensions and plug-ins, RockMelt is an intriguing product. Its developers set out to build the next-generation browser, and it should be interesting to see if RockMelt succeeds.
If you were a Flock user or have given RockMelt a spin, leave a comment and let me know what you think.