Flock – the browser for a socially connected world

Flock.comFor those of you who swear by Mozilla’s Firefox and would shrivel up and die if someone pulled the plug on Web 2.0, do I have a new toy for you! Flock, a Mozilla-based web browser that combines the power or social networking, web browsing, RSS, and blogging that is sure to become the next Web 2.0 hit software wildly popular with early adopters. In fact, it’s so good, it could very well become the browser of choice for hardcore surfers who love to multi-task.

Are you growing weary of flipping back and forth between tabs open to 27 different social networks, all while pulling feeds and reading news with a 3rd party software client? If so, then Flock is for you! I use the RSS reader, Endo, and sister blog editing software, Ecto. Not for long. Flock pulls everything in under one roof, which allows opening one client instead of 3 or 4, saving on RAM used to open multiple programs. I’ve been test driving it for a few days now and I’m pretty impressed.

I retrieved v. 1.0 from the Flock.com web site. Once installed, it took a little getting used to, but I quickly fell in deep like with the browsers Accounts and Services window, which can keep tabs on your social network profiles by logging into your profile and displaying, for example, your Facebook news feed complete with photos and other relevant need-to-know information. The browser comes pre-configured with a number of sites to get you started: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube are under the “People” tab; Photobucket and Piczo are listed under the “Media Sharing Tab;” and you’ve got your choice of blogs under the “Blogging” tab, inclucing Blogger, Blogsome, LiveJournal, Typepad, WordPress, or Zanga. There’s even a tab for you to connect your own self-hosted blog.

Click on one of the tabs to enter your user name and password, hit submit, and the browser takes over from there. If you are sharing a computer, you can set up a separate account for your partner, husband, wife, or children to keep their profile preferences separate from your own. Definitely an important privacy feature if the browser is logged into multiple social networks at any given time.

The great thing is, you no longer have to constantly flip back to Facebook to see your friend’s status updates–they run in real time in your browser and you can scroll down for most of the days updates. All new items contain an Actions drop down menu, which makes it simple to poke, send a message, post to wall, share a link, or give a gift.

Another one of Flock’s cool features is a Web Clipboard available in the side bar. As you’re browsing, open Web Clipboard, and just drag and drop any image to save it for later use. This is especially important for bloggers who need to save clips of sites and photos on the fly.

I’ve added about 20 sites of my most visited sites to the Favorites sidebar, which pulls each sites browser bar icon into the list as a helpful visible indicator. A prominent star lives next to the home icon in the browser’s tool bar. Click it and it adds the site to your favorites list without bothering to have to open the Bookmark Manager. You can drag and drop in the list to arrange your Favorites accordingly.

Flock also has a Media Bar, which opens up as wide as the browser’s viewing pane, and dropsg in just under the toolbar. It pulls in photo feeds from any account you’ve given it access to. I’ve only tested for photos and am not sure if you’ll be able to play audio from an iLike or Last.fm. It would be neat if you could play tunes in the browser from your MP3Tunes locker, or something like that. Yahoo recently launched an embeddable music player which scours a page and plays any MP3 from that page. I wouldn’t be surprised if Flock enabled the player as a plug-in.

I think you’ll love Flock as much as I do. Go to Flock.com to download your version.

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