RSS
RockMelt: A web browser for Facebook addicts?
A new competitor to Internet Explorer and Firefox brings your social-media buddies along wherever you go on the web. A needed innovation, or just information overload?
 
The social media catch-all browser RockMelt is backed by Marc Andreessen who introduced Netscape to the world in the mid-1990s.
The social media catch-all browser RockMelt is backed by Marc Andreessen who introduced Netscape to the world in the mid-1990s.
RockMelt.com

The new web browser RockMelt aims to transform the internet for the Facebook era. RockMelt, which launched in beta version on Tuesday, weaves social media into the browser, displaying users' friends and their updates in every window they open, making it easier to share photos, tweets, and more. Founder Marc Andreessen, who introduced pioneering browser Netscape in the mid-1990s, says RockMelt is for people who "kind of live their lives online and spend time communicating with their friends online." Is this the future of web browsing, or just an annoying new extension of Facebook? (Watch a RockMelt tutorial)

RockMelt's a hit out of the gate: "After taking the new browser for a spin," says Ed Baig at USA Today, I can report that RockMelt "appears to be rock solid." Others have tried this approach — "think Flock" — but RockMelt raises the bar. It's "speedy," "spare," and "extremely outgoing," and it integrates social media in a way "that does not feel overly cluttered." And "I like how [it] handles Google search too."
"RockMelt social web browser leaves a favorable first impression"

Sorry, RockMelt is just annoying: What a letdown, says Violet Blue at ZDNET. RockMelt would be helpful if it let you separate your "sorta friends" from the people you actually want to share with — but it offers "no way to really fine-tune the mess known as our Facebook contacts." And it doesn't give you options to make you feel "in control" of your privacy, either. Basically, "RockMelt is irritating because Facebook is irritating."
"Cavegirl discover RockMelt, throw Facebook browser through window"

It's not too in-your-face: "If Facebook built a browser, it would probably look a lot like this," says Rafe Needleman at CNET. The dashboards that display friends' status updates are "at once informative and unobtrusive." Plus,"RockMelt is fast." But it's not ready for prime time yet — there are lots of "bugs," and it will have to incorporate more networking services, such as LinkedIn and Gmail, to really catch on.
"RockMelt browser is social, but not obnoxiously so"

The privacy implications may be troubling: RockMelt "requires you to allow full access to your Facebook accounts," says Melissa Bell at The Washington Post, and thus it keeps track of "where and how you browse, and what you look for on the web." This all means that "targeted ads can be more targeted." Sure, RockMelt's creators say they'll never target ads at users, but "that's what the founders of Google once said, too."
"RockMelt: Intrusive browser or next-generation web search?"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week