For the past week I’ve been playing around with an interesting new web browser called RockMelt. For those unfamiliar, RockMelt takes an interesting approach to web browsing by integrating social media directly into the browser making it much easier to communicate with your Facebook and Twitter networks, and to also share web content more quickly and efficiently.
After a few days, I must say I am starting to really enjoy the experience. The browser is actually built on the Chrome platform, so I haven’t missed much of a step since I had switched to using the Chrome browser a month or so ago. While there are some definite improvements necessary for me to officially switch to RockMelt as my primary browser, it’s well on it’s way. Here’s what I’ve observed thus far and what I think is good and what needs to be improved.
- Built On The Chrome Platform – This is great because RockMelt inherits all the benefits of the Chrome browser, specifically the ability to use Chrome extensions and browser speed. You don’t miss a step by switching to RockMelt as inherently it’s just a variation of the Chrome Browser.
- Fantastic UI – The UI is really great. I love how they have the left and right rails to integrate social media as this makes the best use of screen real estate. Very clean, and easy to use.
- Facebook Integration – The Facebook integration is pretty tight. I just found myself actually using the browser to update Facebook statuses, catch up on the news feed, and chat with others. I also like the ability to create a list of favorites to pair down who you see online on the left rail. I haven’t used the chat function much yet and early word is there are some bugs to work out.
- Share Button – It couldn’t be easier to share web content. The share button integrated into the browser seamlessly allows you to share the page you are on on Facebook and Twitter.
- Twitter Integration – Just not quite ready for primetime yet. It’s great that the option is there, but the execution is off a bit. I want to be able to make the default timeline be @mentions or lists I’ve created. While you can switch to this, you can’t make it the default setting. Also would like the option of choosing my URL shortener.
- More Chat Integration – I love the fact that you can chat directly with Facebook contacts, but would be even more useful is the option to use other chat clients as well. The fact is, most of my contacts do not use Facebook as their chat client. I love the idea of having chat clients integrated with the browser, but I haven’t come across a great execution on this. It would be fantastic if RockMelt would give you the option of using chat clients such as Gmail, Live Messenger, Yahoo, etc.
- Search Bar – When you use the search bar, the results actually pop up in a column rather then in the browser window. It’s an interesting concept, but for me, I prefer the traditional approach. While you can click a link at the top to move them into the tab, I would prefer a setting that would allow me to change this so that the default was in the browser tab. I also prefer the single bar approach that Chrome has adopted where the top bar acts as both the URL and search box.
The RockMelt browser is not for everyone. If you are a heavy social media user, you’ll probably find the experience useful and enjoyable. However if you only find yourself on Facebook or Twitter 1-2 times per day, I would stick with your normal browser of choice. If RockMelt can make some of the improvements above, I could see myself becoming a heavier user and possibly making it my default browser choice. Anything that can potentially minimize the number of programs or actions I have to take to manage my day is a good thing. RockMelt is a step in the right direction.