RockMelt: <br />A Re-imagined Social Browser

Social networks have changed our digital lifestyle. A major chunk of our activities online, like consuming news, multimedia, shopping, recommendations etc., have undergone a paradigm shift thanks to the social web. Links and likes from Facebook and Twitter influence our day to day decisions.

While there are plenty of splendid, free plugins and dedicated apps available for staying on top of the social graph it’s hard to beat the convenience and multi-tasking capability of a web browser. For those of us who think social media plugins are a bloat on system resources, an all new social browser has been unleashed into the interwebs.

Read on for more about RockMelt and how it can enhance your social experience.

Overview

Built on top of the open source code of Google’s Chromium web browser, RockMelt does more than just navigating the web. The RockMelt team claims this to be a re-imagined version of how a web browser should be, taking into account all the social networking activity happening around us. The browser makes it easy for you to do the things you do every single day on the web: share and keep up with your friends, stay up-to-date on news and information, and search.

Overview

Overview

RockMelt is currently in beta and a free download. You’ll have to connect with your Facebook account to get in line for a beta invitation. In my case, the invitation arrived within 24 hours of connecting with them.

Installation & Set Up

Just like Google Chrome, the RockMelt executable you download is very light weight and, upon launching, connects to their servers to get the latest version of the software. The installer downloaded pretty fast and instead of showing a typical installer with point & click navigation, RockMelt asked for my Facebook login credentials straight away.

Setting Up Facebook

Setting Up Facebook

Like other apps trying access Facebook, you’ll have to review the stuff that the app can pull from your account. In the case of RockMelt, it asks for access to everything that the Facebook API would allow.

Facebook Authorization

Facebook Authorization

After authorizing, the installer vanished from the desktop for quiet a bit without any status message or notice. I assumed that it must be connecting to the Facebook account since my CPU was furiously processing something. A status page is must at this stage of the installation so that newbies won’t be confused.

Design

Surprisingly, RockMelt didn’t ask me to enter my Twitter account information or perform any other tasks but launched the browser with just the Facebook data from my account. RockMelt takes its design inspiration from Firefox 4 and Google Chrome. While the menu design at the top right is from the upcoming version of Firefox, the rest of the elements are similar to Google Chrome.

Browser Window

Browser Window

The browser sports the awesome bar which displays search results from Google. To top it off, RockMelt automatically imports your browsing history if you’ve already installed Google Chrome. The key elements that turn RockMelt into a social powerhouse are the left and right sidebars and the speed dial-like homepage. The sidebars, known as edges, act like quick links to your social networks and contacts.

Social Networks & Updates

The right edge of the browser displays the vital messaging and communication information from multiple networks as well as suggestions to news feeds.

Social Networks & Updates

Social Networks & Updates

Latest updates from the Facebook news feed and the Facebook personal messages can be accessed quickly from their respective icons. You can Like, comment, reply, retweet and share – all the actions you have come to expect from the top social networks you are registered to.

Facebook News Feed

Facebook News Feed

You can add your Twitter account from the right edge and, with the help of the Common Status Update Module, your status message message can be posted across multiple social networks simultaneously.

Common Status Update Module

Common Status Update Module

Sharing With Friends

RockMelt makes sharing links with friends such a simple task. When you find a webpage, video or picture you liked while browsing, use the Share button, add a comment and the link gets posted in the social networks you select from the drop down menu.

Sharing With Friends

Sharing With Friends

Personalization

RockMelt is the first browser to be fully backed by the cloud. So you can now access your personal browsing experience from anywhere and get quick updates from the people and sites that are important to you. RockMelt also keeps track of the sites you visit most and alerts you when there’s an update, just like the way you get alerts when there’s an update from your friends.

All login information is encrypted before being sent and you can be sure that no one at RockMelt will have access to your credentials. Also, RockMelt does not plan to insert targeted advertisements based on your browsing habits and hence none of your browsing data is stored for data mining, protecting your privacy. A laudable principle indeed!

Final Thoughts

RockMelt is a great real-time browser that pushes all the updates from your social streams as and when there is an update. If you have a lot of friends and follow a lot of people, the number of notifications might be overwhelming. While this is a social browser, some sort of control has to be given to the user to turn off notifications on status updates that come in every second to get some work done.

RockMelt may be a little a late to the web browser marathon with so many giants already running miles ahead and trying hard to eat one another for lunch. What works for RockMelt is that it’s fast and efficient without feature bloat, unlike Flock. While it’s no Hootsuite, this version of RockMelt is a great social network companion, perfect for personal use.

Share Your Thoughts!

What’s your take on RockMelt’s dedicated social browser? Is it better than Flock and will they succeed in the already crowded domain? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!


Summary

RockMelt is re-imagining the browser for the way people use the web today.

  • RockMelt  | 
  • Free  | 
  • RockMelt Inc.
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