RockMelt, the new social web browser [REVIEW]

RockMeltI’ll be honest, I tend to get a bit skeptical when I hear about new web browsers that will supposedly alter the way in which I engage with the internet.  In general, these browsers tend to needlessly overcomplicate things, and both UI and functionality suffer.  Additionally, I am currently very loyal to Chrome.

Thus, when I first started using RockMelt, it was pleasantly familiar to me.  RockMelt is built using Chromium, the same open source browser project that powers Google Chrome.  In addition to immediately knowing my way around the browser, this also means that all of my favorite Chrome plugins still worked just fine.

But let’s get to what makes RockMelt different.  RockMelt was designed to seamlessly integrate the user’s social networks into their browsing experience.  The creators of RockMelt found that many of today’s internet users spend a majority of their time online navigating back and forth between a few webpages, checking for updated content.  The interface of RockMelt allows users to have those pages featured around the borders of their window.

When you first install RockMelt, you are immediately required to log in with your Facebook username and password, and indeed Facebook seems to have been the central priority of the designers.  Down the left side of my screen, I can see my Facebook friends, and I can quickly switch back and forth between a list of my favorite friends or my friends who are currently online.  Within just one or two clicks, I can easily see any recent status updates, post to their wall, or send them a message.

On the right side of my window, I have some of my favorite bookmarks, my Twitter feed, and some RSS feeds.  Clicking on these icons brings up a new window on top of the browser, so I can quickly check for updates, and then just as quickly get back to the page that I was browsing.

The program offers a smooth integration with Growl, and allows for alerts to let me know when new Facebook statuses or Twitter updates have been posted, if for some reason you want to be made aware of that every time it happens.

All in all, I have to admit that RockMelt retains a great degree of browser functionality while allowing seamless integration with your favorite social networking platforms and frequently visited blogs and websites.  If you’re like me and are easily distracted, this might not be the best program to install on your work computer, but might be ideal for the person who finds themselves constantly clicking back and forth between multiple tabs of Facebook, Twitter, and however many blogs they might be addicted to, not to mention what you’re actually meant to be doing at the time.

Currently, RockMelt is in an invite-only beta release, and naturally they are still working out some bugs.  But if you’re a person who needs to stay on top of the social web at all times and could use a little more order in their browsing experience, I would definitely recommend checking it out.  Visit RockMelt’s website for an invite, or check out their blog for more information about future release dates.


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