Flock, the self-proclaimed Social Web browser, recently released version 2.0 with a few notable upgrades, including the integration of their most requested service, MySpace.
That’s right, you read that correctly, the browser that relies on social networking for popularity and downloads just integrated the biggest social network of all.
Because we’ve all been waiting since February for the MySpace add, there’s no harm in waiting a little longer by covering the other new perks first:
* Performance: Flock 2.0 is built on the latest Firefox 3.0 technology from Mozilla. This means an improvement in speed, user-friendliness and overall awesomeness.
* Media RSS: With the incorporation of MRSS, you can subscribe to media streams offered by any Web site, including those that aren’t integrated in Flock. You’ll be notified when any of the sites you’ve subscribed to have updated, and those updates will appear in a special personal Web page that comes with the browser called My World.
* Themes: What would a browser be without themes? Currently, Flock only offers two and they’re both blue, but they’ve reported that users can expect "many more over the coming weeks and months."
A Social Web Browser? Come Again?
Flock claims that the advent of tabbed browsing has been less convenient with the rise of social networks. They say that it's too time-consuming and annoying to click back and forth between the social networks you check every minute or so and the Web page you're actually looking at.
The browser attempts to remedy this problem for compulsive refreshers in two ways:
1. The Sidebar: To the left of your browser is a vertical column that stays on the top no matter which website you're looking at. Within this column are your up to date news feeds, social networks or favorite photo sites. Here you can accept new friend requests, update your status, view or leave comments, check new photos, check new videos, etc. The Sidebar also includes a bookmarking tool and a Web Clipboard for storing photos, links or text.
2. The Media Bar: This bar, which displays horizontally across the top of your browser (also at all times), shows the most recent photos or videos from friends within your social networks.
The two bars are supposed to be convenient because you can drag photos from the Media Bar and drop them into Flock's own blog editor or e-mail, and you can drag photos or text directly from web pages into the Side Bar if you want to share them with social network friends or post them to the Web Clipboard, where they will stay until you delete them. This, obviously, eliminates the need for tabs or multiple windows.
Can Flock Really Rock?
This year alone, Facebook has grown immensely more popular, and we just covered the surprising potential of the underdog, Ning. Because of this, by now the addition of MySpace to Flock's list of integrated services (which also includes Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Digg, YouTube, Photobucket and Twitter) is kind of less than exciting. And we're afraid that their other features don't really make up for the late release, either.
The reality is that even though Flock eliminates the need for tabs, it doesn't entirely do away with clicking. The sidebar can only show one topic of information at a time, so you still have to click around its controls to get from news feeds to social networks, to the clipboard, or to your bookmarks.
And if you don't have a high-resolution screen, the bars can get fairly intrusive when it comes to viewing the content on a regular web page. And even if you do have a monitor as big as Texas, the fact remains that everything constantly going on at once right in front of you can tend to be more distracting than helpful.
Additionally, browsers like Firefox are already chalk-full of multicolored themes and plenty of widgets that, albeit don't do the auto-blog and snag text/images thing, can check the status of popular social networks just fine.
Add all of these factors up and Flock seems nothing but the browser that's on the heels of all the greats, and they'll catch nothing from being that but a lot of flack.