Review: RockMelt Takes Browser Social With Facebook Integration - InformationWeek

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Review: RockMelt Takes Browser Social With Facebook Integration

The Google Chromium-based browser, backed by Marc Andreessen, doesn't break new ground on feature set, but could be a hit with heavy social media users.

RockMelt Social Web Browser Revealed
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: RockMelt Social Web Browser Revealed

The newest entry in the browser wars is RockMelt, a Google Chromium-based browser designed to tightly integrate with social networks. Since social networking-focused browsers are nothing new, what makes RockMelt stand out?

One reason is the person behind it, namely browser pioneer and Netascape founder Marc Andreessen. When someone like Andreessen releases an alpha of a new browser, people pay attention. From a features standpoint, there isn’t much that we haven’t seen in similar social browsers, such as Flock, or even in social extensions for browsers, like Firefox and Google Chrome.

However, especially given its early release status, RockMelt's implementation of its social features is surprisingly strong. In fact, its Facebook integration is so good that it could easily become the browser of choice for heavy Facebook users.

Since RockMelt is based on the Chromium engine behind the Google Chrome browser, upon launching it I saw much of the same interface of Chrome but with some important differences.

When you launch RockMelt, it asks for your Facebook login. Once it starts, it automatically logs into Facebook and integrates Facebook information directly into the browser interface. This includes a list of Facebook friends (shown with small image thumbnails) that runs down the lefthand side of the browser window.

This listing could be customized to show favorites, which are selected by hitting a star next to the person's image. Clicking on a friend's thumbnail displayed that person's most recent status and provided the option to chat with or post on that person's wall. This is useful, though I was unable to find an option to send a message to a friend from within RockMelt.

When viewing websites from within RockMelt, a user can easily choose to share any page being viewed by clicking the share button next to the address bar. By clicking this button, I could post the link to my Facebook wall and include a comment or could (at least in this area of RockMelt) send the link as a message to a Facebook friend.

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