For those fed up of skipping between social sites, RockMelt offers all your social activity front-and-center in a highly customizable browser environment. Check out the latest beta with more sharing, interactivity and smarter information displays.
The Mobile Way
As smartphones gradually bolt your favorite social services into their topmost layers, the idea of having to skip between different sites in your desktop browser is looking rather old-hat. RockMelt has been progressing over the last year or so from a Facebook-front-ended browser to one that can now handle pretty much all your social services neatly laid around the edges of a standard browser.
The latest beta 5, will be automatically installed for existing users. Those interested in trying it out can download it from the RockMelt site. The basic browser offers neat, scalable, tabs down the sides for notifications and friend status information, Facebook and Twitter updates and so on. The new version improves the offering with a Social Omnibox to help find friends and topics of interest all from the one place.
An improved social tab makes it easier for users to monitor current activity via a news ticker and you easily spot friend's birthdays and other upcoming events. You can also add "apps" for popular sites to see when updates or new stories are posted.
Another new feature allows users to share text. Highlight some text, choose who to share it with and off it goes, great for research or sharing a joke without the hassle of pasting web links all over the web. In a similar vein, Social Reading is a feature that adds the articles from news-type site that you read to your Facebook Timeline allowing others to see what's hot in your world.
Chromium and Tablets
If all that social-ness sounds too much for you, there's a quiet mode that turns it back into a more common-looking browser. RockMelt is one of many Chromium web browsers in development, some of the others that offer various security or convenience features are covered in an InfoWorld article.
While there is currently an iPhone app of RockMelt available, it'll be interesting to see when an iPad or Android tablet app emerges to make better use of the greater (but still quite constrained) space. Tablet users could see the browser shoot up the rankings.