RockMelt browser review - I'll probably be off this "social web browser" kick soon, but at the moment, it's a very intriguing playing field. As I wrote in my earlier Mac social web browsers review, even in a beta status, I think the new RockMelt browser is the current king of social web browsers.
RockMelt browser review - The short story
If you're interested in going down the social web browser road, here's what's good about RockMelt:
- On a Mac, the RockMelt integration with Mac Growl is an excellent approach. I really like seeing Twitter and Facebook posts show up as Growl notifications. This is a killer feature.
- The RockMelt browser is based on Google Chrome, and you can instantly go from "RockMelt browser" to "Chrome browser" in a single keystroke. This is very nice for when you don't want to see the social browser adornments.
- The RockMelt browser "edges" are very well thought out. At the moment I have my favorite friends listed in a column on the left side of the RockMelt browser, and my favorite websites listed as shortcuts on the right edge of the RockMelt browser. This includes not only Twitter and Facebook, but any web site whose RSS feed I've added.
For the details of each of these features, read on ...
RockMelt browser review - The details
RockMelt browser and Growl
As mentioned, the RockMelt + Mac Growl notifications are a killer feature for me. Assuming you already use Growl, just install RockMelt, hook it up to Twitter, Facebook, and others (a pretty easy setup, though it crashed once on me), and you'll see Growl notifications appear during the day as you're working along. I love this feature, as I just look up, see if it's anything important, and then it goes away. Awesome. I even liked it last night as I was watching a movie on Hulu, and these subtle notifications popped up as I was watching the movie.
RockMelt as a Chrome browser
The next best RockMelt browser feature is very simple: You can just hide all the RockMelt social browser features -- the RockMelt edges -- and use RockMelt as a Google Chrome browser, with a single keystroke. The RockMelt "hide edges" keystroke is [Shift][Command][Space] on a Mac system, and I use it all the time. In fact, when I learned how to do this, I also started using RockMelt as a full screen web browser using the Google Chrome [Shift][Command][F] keystroke. This can be awesome from time to time: Press this key once and Chrome takes over your full screen (just like the Google ChromeOS), and press it again and you're back to where you were.
RockMelt browser feeds
The RockMelt feeds approach is also a very clever idea and implementation. By default RockMelt feeds show up on the right edge of the browser, and include Twitter and Facebook. But once you start using RockMelt, you can easily add other RSS feeds to this feeds edge. For instance, if you go to the home page of devdaily.com, you can click the RockMelt feeds widget, and add the devdaily RSS feed to your RockMelt feeds. (An improvement here would be to let the user do that without having to go to the website's home page, but (a) it's a beta, and (b) maybe there are reasons this shouldn't be done I don't know.)
Another thing to mention about RockMelt RSS feeds is that in addition to showing an icon for each RSS feed, they also show a count of the number of new/unread posts at that feed. For instance, if I've written four new tutorials since the last time you visited devdaily.com, the number "4" will show next to the icon for this website. The same thing happens with Twitter, Facebook, etc. This is a great feature, but in the current RockMelt beta this isn't syncing as well as you could hope for, but hopefully this will be improved in time.
One final RockMelt browser feed feature needs to be mentioned as well. If you click the feed icon for any website, RockMelt displays a small window showing what is essentially the RSS feed for that website. For devdaily you will see a relatively traditional RSS feed, and for sites like Twitter and Facebook you'll see more details (probably because they have a lot more money and resources than I do, lol). This is another terrific RockMelt browser feature.
RockMelt browser review - Summary
As you can tell from this RockMelt browser review, I'm just a bit of a RockMelt fan these days. Frankly, as I've tried all sorts of social web browser approaches lately, including creating my own custom Mac widgets with Safari web clips, I've really come to like RockMelt as the "vision" of where browsers will go next, essentially becoming your "console" (dashboard?) for your internet social lifestyle. Frankly, I can't think of an easier way to get to your social websites and RSS feeds other than what the RockMelt browsers folks have come up with.
Finally, here are links to a few articles related to the RockMelt browser and social web browsers (and widgets) in general: