Monday, November 08, 2010

ROCKMELT - what's the deal with this new browser? [and where and how to signup]

Been thinking that Firefox or Chrome browser of yours just isn't, say, social enough? Probably not, but RockMelt is hoping that's exactly what you'll think after you try out its web browser. The Mountain View startup, which is backed by web bigwigs such as Marc Andreeseen, has just released its new browser in a limited beta today, and it's -- as you probably may have guessed -- built entirely around social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Using Chromium at its core, the browser naturally looks and feels a lot Chrome -- fret not, Incognito mode is still there -- but there are some clear interface tweaks. As you can see in the screenshot above, the left edge integrates your Facebook friends so you can chat, send messages or check out status updates no matter what site you're visiting. (Oddly, there doesn't seem to be a way to poke from the interface! Blasphemy!) The right column is meant for Twitter and RSS feeds -- both are updated in the background and use "push notifications" to let you know how many unread messages or posts you've got piling up. You can update your statuses from both rails as well as share the site you are reading by just hitting the large share button to the left of the search bar. It's all fairly straightforward and actually works quite well.

However, RockMelt is pitching itself as more than just a sharing platform -- it also claims to have improved the speed and ease of search. Instead of the search box taking you to a Google search page, it brings up the results in a box of its own and allows you to visit the different sites within the browser window -- basically, you don't have to keep clicking back and forth from that Google search page. It's fairly neat, and actually does seem rather snappy. So, when can you try out RockMelt yourself? We wish we had better news, but it's in a limited beta for both Mac and PC, so your best bet is to head over to the source link and give away your Facebook details (if you're cool with forking over that info). Based on our first impressions, it's definitely worth putting your name in the running.

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