Rockmelt is, at it’s heart, Chromium – the open source browser project that builds all the groundwork that Google Chrome is based on. You’ll notice a lot of similarities between the two is terms of functionality and visual style. However, while Chrome is a streamlined, svelte Kris Kristofferson of a browser, RockMelt is a little more Lady Gaga.
Each side of the browser is bordered with friends and social networks – the left border houses your Facebook friends, a row of smiling faces just waiting for you to chat with them – while the right border is home to your Twitter timeline (accessible through a pop-out) and RSS feeds.
Since Firefox first hit the scene rocking it’s now-ubiquitous Extension, people have found ways to shoe-horn social networking elements into the browser experience, however this is the first time a browser has been built especially to tie in with all your social networks – and RockMelt does seem to have gone with an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, and the end result is a tad overwhelming, it must be said.
Remember in the late 90s when digital watches were coming of age and people were trying to cram every possible feature into them? You had watches that were calculators, watches that were TV remotes, and as a result the watches looked cramped and were difficult to use. RockMelt reminds me of that – it’s feature creep on a grand scale, so grand, in fact, that it now incorporates features never meant for the browser. And you can call me a prude all you like, but having a row of your friends face staring blankly at you as you read CNN is downright disconcerting.
But don’t listen to me – after all it is 8am on a rainy Monday morning (the exact time when I’m least receptive to new ideas). If you want to get a piece of the action, you can sign up for inclusion in the beta (using your Facebook details, if you’re OK with that) at the RockMelt website.
Screenshot via Engadget.