The differences to Chrome are subtle but did take a short while to become apparent. The settings menu is on the top-left of the window before the tabs, which was confusing at first. It actually makes sense when you see that the area it covered has been replaced with a Firefox-esque search feature, though this goes far beyond that experience. When you click into the bar, it appears normal. However, when you finish typing and tap return, your instant-drop-down-search-bar (hopefully they’ll give it a name?) gives you Google functionality straight from your current browser window. Instead of opening up a new tab and searching through the normal (still in effect) address/search bar for something you only want to find a small detail about, you can use the simple dropdown feature. What’s more, once you click, it opens a new tab anyway—makes you wonder why they kept the normal address/search combo!?
The selling point of this workhorse—and it’s a big one: social integration is huge! When you start the browser you are required to log in using Facebook connect. Daunting when it wants access to EVERYTHING you could possibly do on the social network. Once you get past this point and the browser is loaded you see how it works.
On the left is a list of your friends, sorted by online/away/offline variations. A simple click on the profile picture brings up a chat window for you to start your conversation. The sorting of this list can also be sorted by ‘favourite’ friends who have to be manually added by the user to the list. When you do open chat windows, or if somebody starts a conversation, you can drag chats about as standalone windows. This means you can leave them to one side, which less distracting than leaving the site you’re on to visit Facebook, check your conversation, then flick back and find your place. A quick click and you’re chatting in no time. Again, and you’re back to work.
On the right hand side of the window is a notifications bar with a simple Facebook logo and a Twitter logo which sit there ready to alert you upon receiving any new tweets/status updates, whilst in the middle of these sits your Facebook profile picture, which brings up your notifications when clicked. This bar is your App bar, supporting anything that uses RSS feeds—tumblr is supported and this browser has an app to fulfill your posting cravings!
Between the address bar and the new search bar, you can find a nice little “Share” button. It simply shares your current page—however, it does offer the choice of posting to your wall, messaging to somebody else or tweeting about it, which is much more useful than a conventional share! The browser completely eliminates the need to actually visit the Facebook or Twitter site.
All-in-all, there is a lot going on around the place. It’s a very tidy and organised browser that does have a slight feel of Opera about it, in terms of layout ,but with the safety, security and speed of Chrome. It does feel a lot less annoying and a lot less distracting than having a tab open, because of the fact you can see anything and everything from anywhere! For a browser which (at the time of this writing) isn’t even at version one yet shows how superb those ex-‘netscapologists’ actually are and that they can, indeed, make a good browser. This is a browser that is easy to stick with for the long haul, even my friends agree.
Had any experience using RockMelt? let us know your thoughts.
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