The new Rockmelt browser is a way of surfing the internet with a social network edge. If you are like many web users these days you use social networks like Facebook and/or Twitter to track friends and share new ideas and web sites. Rockmelt integrates these services into their browsing experience giving you a new way to work online while still staying in touch with your social network contacts.
I wanted to wait a few weeks to write my review so I could use the browser thoroughly and give you an honest opinion. The browser is still in BETA mode as of this writing so you need an invite to download it (I have some invites available so after reading this if you want to try it, leave a comment or message me) or you can sign up at the Rockmelt site and wait for them to send you details (that’s what I did).
Rockmelt is written by the same folks that gave birth to the Netscape browser in the 1990’s. I must admit I used it very little since the ‘net was still so new at the time. Another feature of Rockmelt is that it is written using the open source Chromium code from Google so it feels like Google Chrome for those of you who’ve used Google’s browser. I use a mix of Firefox or Chrome depending on my needs but tend to default to Chrome for most of my web surfing so Rockmelt was familiar for me to use. The folks who’ve written the code for the browser added a few tweaks but nothing that you can’t figure out. So after a few weeks of using Rockmelt, here’s the pro/con review…
You can stay connected to your social networks while you work. Facebook friends are immediately accessible even if you are browsing another site. I do a lot of my writing online with Google Docs so this makes is convenient for me to work yet still be able to communicate with someone trying to reach me. Rockmelt signs in to your Facebook account when you start it up and then it accesses other networks you have such as Twitter or Linked In. You just have to set those networks up initially and then when you start using Rockmelt, you’ll see updates on a small sidebar that is visible on your browser. You can also add feeds for other networks of your choosing if you like. Another sidebar on the left side of the browser instantly lets you know what friends you have online through Facebook so if you want to message someone, you can.
The “share” button. Rockmelt has a share button built-in next to the address bar that you can use to share sites with your friends on the various networks. Simply click on it and you are instructed to pick the network to share the link on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and then hit send and you’re done. It’s very convenient.
I converse with many folks professionally because of the nature of my work so the instant availability feature in Rockmelt is great for that aspect of my ministry. However, I could see where being constantly connected to a site like Facebook while still being able to work online elsewhere could be a problem for some. You have to be responsible in your usage of your time. There could be a heavy temptation to waste time talking to friends online while working thus slowing your productivity.
Updates are set up in Rockmelt to pop up as you surf so if a friend posts something on Twitter, you get an immediate message to let you know. I’m sure this could be turned off in some way but it can be annoying when you’re working.
The last thing is that the trade-off for the sidebars in Rockmelt is decreased browser space on your screen. If you have a big screen there are likely no issues but I’m still using an older 15″ monitor and it can be a bit distracting at times.
Overall, I like Rockmelt and plan to use it quite a bit. I still default to Google Chrome for many things but will use Rockmelt to stay connected as I work online If you’d like to try it out for yourself, let me know and I’ll send you an invite to download it and see if it’s something you could benefit from.