You wouldn’t know it by looking at the market share numbers, but there are a lot of web browsers out there. While Internet Explorer dominates and Firefox holds a solid second place, with Chrome coming strong from behind, there are some niches that are not being catered to by them. One of the more popular of the obscure browsers is Flock, which lists social networking integration as its main selling point.
Flock, which is built on top of Mozilla Firefox, has been around for a few years and has become marginally popular. The ones that use it are generally very pleased with the added functionality of the browser, but one of its big drawbacks is the inherent slowness.
However, its developers think they have a solution for that with the new Flock 3 Beta, which ditches Firefox in favor of Chromium, the open-source twin of Google Chrome. It retains its social integration, but narrows the focus down to just a few, admittedly, very popular sites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Flock 3 Beta
is a heavily customized version of Chromium. While its origins are still recognizable, Flock does enough things differently to stand out. It comes with a modified UI, which, for the most part, looks better than what Google is providing. A small but impacting change is the use of ‘regular’-looking tabs, like every other browser, from Safari to Opera does, instead of the ghastly looking trapezoidal ones in Chrome.
But the cosmetic changes are not the reason why you’d want to use Flock. In terms of social integration, things look pretty solid. The developers adopted the Google design philosophy and kept everything simple. All the features you’ll need are inside a right sidebar built into the browser. It’s mostly based on HTML5 and is generally snappy enough to not become a nuisance.
You’re asked to enter your account details at startup, after which you will be able to keep up with what your friends are doing and saying while doing regular browsing. You can also customize and filter the sidebar to view only the updates that are of interest to you, if the constant stream becomes too distracting. Flock users and those that believe they may find the social features useful should definitely give the beta a try. Flock 3 Beta
is available for download here