A few months ago, a study was released showing that Facebook garnered more traffic than Google. The difference was marginal, but it drove home the fact that more users are using their web browsers primarily to access social media rather than to merely “surf” the web. In response to this trend, a few Internet software companies have taken to reinventing the web browser for the social media crowd. Two frontrunners in the social media web browser realm are Flock and RockMelt. These alternative web browsers take the focus away from bookmarks, web searches and web pages and instead keeps social media and sharing front and center. Here’s a quick comparison of both:
RockMelt and Flock: What’s the Same
The most fundamental similarity between these two social media web browsers is the underlying technology. Both RockMelt and Flock are based on Chromium, the open-source web browser developed by Google and used in its own Google Chrome web browser. Chromium has been hailed as the fastest web browser, especially when compared to Firefox and Internet Explorer, which means that both RockMelt and Flock will give you speedy browsing speeds.
Beyond that, both RockMelt and Flock have the same core focus: social media. RockMelt and Flock both integrate your social media feeds—such as Facebook and Twiter—right into the browser. Both also go to great lengths to make it easy to share content on your various social media channels.
RockMelt and Flock: What’s Different
Immediately, you’ll notice there are differences in the user interface. RockMelt adds two “edges” to the browser window. On the left is your Facebook edge and on the right is your “favorites” edge, though it’s mostly dedicated to Twitter. The Facebook edge lets you pull up Facebook friends and chat with them, write on their wall, or share something with them on the fly. The favorites have notifications that show you when new updates are available. You can click on them to view the latest content without leaving the page you’re currently on or opening a new tab. Along the top is a Share button, which lets you send the webpage you’re currently viewing to Twitter or Facebook.
Flock takes a different approach. Rather than splitting up your social media channels, it integrates them into a unified feed on the right-hand side. Here, you’ll see both Twitter and Facebook status updates. You can also update your own status using this sidebar. The interface feels very much like TweetDeck. A drop-down menu lets you filter out your Facebook friends or your Twitter friends, etc. The sharing interface is built-in to the address bar. When you click the share button, you’ll be given a new status update window with a pre-shortened URL in it.
Another important difference is the way that RockMelt and Flock integrate with your social media accounts. RockMelt asks you to authorize it with full access to Facebook, essentially acting as a Facebook client, like the Facebook iPhone app or TweetDeck. Flock, on the other hand, asks you to sign up for a Flock account, which is then associated with your Twitter/Facebook accounts.
Verdict: Which is Better?
Both are excellent browsers that bring social media into focus for web browsers. Which is better will largely depend on your tastes. However, you should note that RockMelt is still in beta, so you may encounter an occasional bug. One of the benefits of RockMelt, however, is that you do not have to sign up for a separate account. RockMelt also doubles as an RSS reader, thanks to the favorites edge.