New browsers might be hatched almost every day, but new browsers that sound like a sandwich one might find in Philadelphia—and that everybody seems to be talking about—don't. What is RockMelt?
It's a browser...
As you might guess when you fire up RockMelt for the first time, it's a browser built on top of Chromium—the open source project that powers Google Chrome. Which means RockMelt is really, really fast, even with all of the sharing stuff on top of it. In fact, it's kind of like Chrome, but with super-duper extensions for Facebook and Twitter.
...with some interesting backers... The big name behind RockMelt is Marc Andreessen—you might remember him as the founder of Netscape, the loser of the Great Browser War, when it was obliterated by the Dark Lord IE.
...that's built for sharing...
RockMelt's centered around sharing links with your friends. In practice, it's like having Facebook built into your browser. In fact, every time you start up RockMelt, it logs into your Facebook account. (Twitter is optional.)
On the left side, there's a Facebook buddy list, populated with your favorite Facebook friends for dragging links to share, chatting or checking their latest updates. The address bar is the biggest departure from Chrome: There's a giant share button for posting to Facebook or Twitter, and the separate search box drops down the results in a list—flicking through each with the down arrow, you can quickly preview the site for each search result. On the right, there's a collection of feeds, like Twitter, your Facebook newsfeed and your favorite sites.
It's the Facebook browser, in effect, since most of the convenience is for quickly posting stuff on, communicating through or scanning Facebook.
...and it could be the future of web browsing...
Like it or not, in RockMelt, you can see the beginnings of a true social browser, one that'll more deeply integrate lots of different social services, from StumbleUpon to Flickr, and hopefully blend them together in a way that works. Given that more and more of the stuff we read and watch online comes from social networks, it seems obvious that the next step is to build that into the browser.
It's not hard to imagine one day seeing what all of your friends are browsing in real time without having to manually "share" anything, or watching crazy YouTube videos together. For now though, RockMelt's just a handy browser for serious Facebook and Twitter addicts who don't mind a little extra clutter in their browser window and the constant threat of procrastination.
...that you can try right now.
You can sign up for early access to RockMelt right here.
Music: "Test Drive" by Zapac