I am currently testing out the new beta version of Flock which is now using Chromium as its base. I think the Flock team decided to use Chromium in preference to Firefox, which had formed the engine of all the previous versions of Flock, simply because its faster. As Flock has always been far more than a simple browser, with its ability to allow the user to access all of their social feeds from the one ‘My World’ page, then obviously all of that extra data takes more time to load and access, and Flock was tending to become slow and cumbersome.
Using Chromium allows Flock to contain your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, flickr and RSS updates in a handy sidebar to the right of the main webpage window, which are updated ‘on the fly’ whilst still enabling some speed in loading those WebPages you wish to view. However, the new beta version is not quite as comprehensive in its choices of features as the previous version. For example, the media bar where you used to be able to view your friends latest photos is no longer available across the top, although you can still see and access all of your flickr friends photos from the sidebar by simply clicking on them.
The Flock bods have assured users that most of the missing features such as your Gmail and Yahoo accounts for example, can be added from the Chrome extensions and so are fully available but in a slightly different way, but Flock does seem now to be rather sparse in its features compared to the vast array that were offered previously.
Your favourite pages (or the ones that you tend to access the most) are conveniently listed on your Flock Home page and you can also add them to the Favourites bar as well if you wish to enable ‘one click’ access.
The social sidebar can be turned off or on by clicking on an icon at the top right hand side of the Flock URL bar. This is where all of your updates from your friends on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, flickr including your RSS feeds are to be found. You can sort all of them into separate categories or ‘Groups’ to suit yourself, and then only view those Groups of updates in the sidebar that you are currently interested in. You can fully interact with the updates in the sidebar, so you can reply, poke or comment on someone’s wall in Facebook, retweet or direct message someone on Twitter and everyone’s Avatar is also fully displayed.
Sorting your friends and contacts into Groups couldn’t be easier to do. You can create any type of Group that you like such as Family, co-workers etc, then once they are all sorted into your chosen groups, you can simply choose to view only one group of updates in the sidebar or alternatively all friends and feeds. The advantages of having your twitter updates right there in your browser cannot be emphasized enough in my view. Why? Because its often the case that most tweets contain a link of some sort, and therefore you can simply click on the link and view the webpage right there next to the tweet. There is no wait for that link to load in a browser window because you are already in one!
You can also incorporate your own links by clicking on the small icon the the immediate left of the URL/Search bar where Flock will automatically supply you with a shortened URL. It all works really well. (see picture below.)
Of course its early days yet for this beta version, but so far, its fast and provides the user with an excellent way to keep up with their social feeds on Twitter and Facebook plus any updates from friends on flickr and YouTube using just one program to do so.
Why don’t you give the new Flock a whirl? Its available from http://beta.flock.com/extensions