Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This new Flock browser

I've got no reason to talk about this other than I think it's pretty cool.

A friend recently turned me onto a new web browser called Flock. It's based on Firefox, so it supports all of the regular Firefox extensions. But it's Firefox and a whole lot more.

The idea is to create a browser that brings your "digital lifestyle" into once place, and it does a darn good job. The side toolbar (think bookmarks bar) now hosts a whole bunch of integrated features like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and lots of other apps and services that I'm not yet familiar with. At a single click, you can pop open your news feeds and "check out what's happening," and then just click and hide and get back to work, doing what you really SHOULD be doing.

The mini-blogging platform (which I'm using now) and media clipboard are perfectly integrated and are much nicer to write with than Blogger's interface (and provides you with more screenspace). This web clipboard allows you to drop and drop videos, pics, text, link, whatever and then just drag it into an email or post later on. So cool. So easy.

There's ALSO a media browser that sucks the pics and vids from a site and shows them in a scrollable bar across the top of the browser.

There are a few things missing that are VERY frustrating. Three main gripes:

1) Best thing about Firefox is that you can type regular words in the Awesome Bar (address bar)—something like "basset hounds wiki" or "pillars of the earth amazon"—and it will skip the search site and take you where you want to go. It guesses (usually correctly) at what you're looking for and saves you the hassle of that "www" and ".com" crap. Flock doesn't do this, and takes a lot of getting used to. I'm sure there's just some config setting to change that I don't know about yet.

2) You can't use the MacBook's fancy trackpad features like the 3-finger scroll to change pages, or go to top and bottom of the page. Slows down navigation and takes some relearning, if you've got the Firefox habits.

3) No Twitter groups. If you still don't "get" Twitter, then this probably doesn't mean much to you. But I've got a whole bunch of interesting people that I follow, in addition to close friends, and groups allow you to filter the tweets in your feed to you can read what you want when. Without groups, it becomes difficult to follow with everything coming into the same place (desktop apps like TweetDeck do this...Flock developers, don't make me go back to TweetDeck, please).

Despite these shortcomings, the overall feeling and success of Flock is overwhelmingly positive. I've got some other thoughts regarding the idea of having EVERYTHING in the same place that I'll save for later, but this works, and I recommend that anyone with at least a Facebook or Twitter account check it out, and start exploring the extra features.

Let us know what you think: http://www.flock.com/

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