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RockMelt (newssite) has started sending out beta invites to test its social-friendly browser. Is this really the shape of things to come?

Between a Rock and a Social Space

RockMelt is a new browser, just launched in limited beta, that offers an easier social media experience on your browser. It shows off its social colors right from the start as you login with your Facebook account details. Before the program runs, you choose the Facebook details that you will allow RockMelt to access -- actually showing a good degree of sense over privacy issues.

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Play Nicely With Friends

Down the left hand side, your Facebook avatar is displayed, with all active friends listed below. The list is customizable, allowing you to choose which friends you want to see and arrange the list to suit your needs. When you hold the cursor over an icon, you can see your chosen friends' status updates.

On the right of the screen, you can add other social networking sites, like Twitter, all done with a simple pop-up sign in. As the services update, the number of new messages/stories appears next to the appropriate icon. You can also interact with posts and respond quickly in the panel.

In fact, you can add any site with an Atom/RSS feed and keep an eye on it as it updates. When you click on the icon, you get a pop-out that shows the latest stories. If you choose to click on a story, it will appear on either your browser pane or in a new tab, depending on your preferences.

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The Edges of Society

With one stroke, you can now browse all your essential sites without having to pop off to Facebook and Twitter, or keep different tabs open, to see what's going on. Yes, most of these features have been done before in Adobe Air apps or browsers like Flock, but not all in one place and done in a pretty slick style.

The main browser looks almost indentical to Chrome has and all the usual features, including Incognito mode and the ability to remove social edges, making it look just like a plain browser. 

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Another feature is the ability to share any link with just a click of the magic button next to the URL line. Click and share with your friends any link you think worthy. Finally, and only for the beta, you can choose three Facebook friends to join in the beta test, choose them wisely.

RockMelt, at first glance, is fun and slick, bringing your social pages to the fore of your browser without taking it over. With the speed of Chromium, it all works neatly and browsing is really smooth. Some may contintue to question however, if the world really needs another browser, even one with neat features like this. RockMelt will have to do a lot to convince the billions of users who use the main players to switch, but it has serious backing, so it shouldn't be taken lightly.