As if browsing the web wasn’t distracting enough, along comes RockMelt, a new browser causing buzz and envy over invites into the not-so-private beta (any club that accepts me as a member can’t be too exclusive, to paraphrase Groucho Marx).
So what else is there for a browser to do? RockMelt integrates the social media sites you already visit (or the functionality of social media consolidation apps like TweetDeck), news feeds and chat into the browser itself, and the toolbar search works like no other. Essentially, it’s a desktop for your online world, but if you’re easily distracted (and who isn’t these days?) don’t expect it to make you any more productive.
To fully appreciate its powers, you’ll need to use the built in features to connect to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, and subscribe to an RSS feed or two. The key differentiators of RockMelt – its competitive “edge,” you might say – are its “Edges,” the vertical navigation rails on the left and right sides of the window. The left edge, by default, shows a subset of your Facebook friends and their online/offline status. Clicking on any friend will spawn a window that will allow you to instigate a chat, post on that friend’s wall, or “star” that friend as a favorite, therefore cementing their presence in your left edge. The right edge features icons to your Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds. Again, no more navigating to Facebook.com, Twitter.com or to your TweetDeck or RSS readers. It’s all there in the “edges”:
Tweeting or posting about an article or video or webpage is easier, too. No more hunting for the “share” icon on the webpage. RockMelt has integrated that functionality right into the browser:
Search is another area where RockMelt shines, again by integrating it into the experience like no other browser. Searching in the integrated toolbar brings back full results in a pop-up. Click on a result to view the page while remaining within the context of your search. The usability of this feature is still a little clunky, but I like where they’re going with it. It’s kind of like Google’s new Instant Previews feature, but on steroids:
And, BTW, RockMelt still has all the features you’d expect from a browser, like tabs, bookmarking and private (“incognito” in RockMelt parlance) browsing.
RockMelt is by no means perfect. It is in beta, after all. Several times I’ve had one or more of my feeds fail to load, and the scrolling on the pop-up windows can be described as wonky, at best. But if nothing else, the folks at RockMelt have figured out pretty much what it is people use the web for, and brought those features to the fore. By doing so, it obviates the need for many of your apps, bookmarks and readers, but only time will tell if this is a good thing. Perhaps the only thing that keeps you from spending all of your online time socializing is the effort it takes to get to those sites, and RockMelt pretty much makes it effortless.
P.S. I have two invites left. Post below if you’re interested!
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