This morning I was very excited to receive my invite to the latest browser in beta. The trendy sounding RockMelt was launched this week by Tim Howes and Eric Vishria, (who previously worked with Marc Andreessen co-founder of Netscape). Described on the Rockmelt blog as “a new browser designed around you and how you use the Web” it integrates social media with the Google Chrome browsing experience.
Despite early teething problems that the company themselves have documented, the popularity of a well-developed SM browser could be easily predicted. I applaud their decision to launch in Beta as well. It means users will hopefully get to aid in development of tool designed for them; it allows early adopters to feel part of the club; plus they have an excuse: “The bad news is that we’ve been experiencing some growing pains as we ramp up to meet demand”.
What interests me most though, is that although the current users of Rockmelt are almost definitely social media managers and the like, it’s design makes it more useful for the everyday users of social media. So the experts will iron out the kinks on something that will be used by Josephine Bloggs.
Good, bad or downright ugly?
Signing up for the site, I was a little perturbed at the use of the Facebook log-in. It makes sense no doubt. With Facebook overtaking all other social media sites on user numbers as well as taking on search engine giants like Google with their Bing integration (bleugh). But, by logging in I allow RockMelt the right to use my information including photos even when I’m not logged in. Of course it’s wise practice not to share too much on social media (How Social Networking Can Ruin Your Life) and as someone who networks for a company I tend to keep my Facebook account away from my Twitter account and my companies Social Networking accounts.
I think the average users growing fear of sharing information with third-parties could potentially break this browser and I do expect there to be more media outrages about Facebook privacy in future.
However, I was impressed when joining up that RockMelt asked to take my bookmarks from one browser to another. Clicked yes, and even my recently visited history pops up in the URL bar when I type in addresses. Saves me a lot of work!
So, how can a social media manager use RockMelt?
Essentially Rockmelt has two competitors, social media aggregators like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck and browsers like Safari and IE. I use Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (my preferred desktop aggregator) to track two accounts during the day, but I still find myself constantly going from browser window to Tweetdeck and back.
With RockMelt I can track updates to my Twitter feed quite easily but when you’re following over 400 people you’re going to end up with thousands of updates on your sidebar. The chicklets are clear but don’t overwhelm the screen and the quite frankly fantastic + symbol at the bottom brings RSS feeds to the masses. I can now easily follow updates from my most-visited sites like Techmap and The99Percent.
Being able to easily follow important sites is great for me. Throughout the day I regularly tweet links to business sites for work and social media links on my own Twitter account (@charlotteclark). I can also easily search and share content and the drop down Google search results bar means I don’t have to keep switching screens.
In fact every time I click on a button on this browser I seem to have a new popup. Perhaps this would become a little distracting, not to mention the screen size of my Macbook is already reduced by my large icons (because I’m blind as a bat). It does seem a little fussy, but if it stops me having to flick back and forth who am I to complain.
RockMelt also allows me the opportunity to access my pages on other computers through my Facebook log in. Having originally trialled the browser on my Mac, I opened the same email on my Windows Desktop and the installed it again. The window opened with the same connection to my Twitter account, my chosen RSS Feeds and bookmarks. Brilliant for anyone who works on two different computers.
The last thing I’m going to point out (before I go and play with the browser properly) is that they have the option of a hidden page. Like Chrome, RockMelt allows you to open a window ‘Incognito’. The site explains that this “won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window”. Perhaps useful for people accessing their bank details, hackers and erm… paedophiles?
Overall I think RockMelt has great potential. I love their friendly terminology, by using phrases like ‘Under the Hood’ instead of ‘Settings’, it’s clear they’re trying to stay away from the stuffier image of old-school browsers like IR. Maybe it’s not for the social media manager but it is definitely great for the average web (Facebook) user. I’d love to see a way for Twitter users to access the browser without having to share their Facebook information but I think the idea’s pretty savvy.
I can imagine all browsers becoming more social over the next year and I think it’s definitely the way forward. But don’t just trust my opinion. Here are some other RockMelt reviews:
- Geek.com: RockMelt based on Chromium
- eweek.com: Search is a treat
- digitaltrends.com: Browser backed by cloud
- Mashable.com: Supports latest and greatest aspects of the web
- pcmag.com: Reflects how people use the web
Let me know what you think of RockMelt and my review below in the comments.