October 21, 2007 |
Flock version 1.0 was just released Friday after a succesful debut at TechCrunch 40. This feature loaded browser has met with moderate success this year, and this version adds social networking functions to an already feature rich browsing experience.
I covered Flock version 0.9 for ReadWriteWeb back in September and it was greatly enhanced over their previous version. Yesterday's full release is an even more refined example of a great browsing tool, but is it enough to put Flock in the running?
Flock has had problems since their early development – primarily because of being over hyped and due to its resemblance (and usage) of FF2. Many considered it to be nothing more than a fancy clone of FF, but even in my early testing Flock really took on a personality of its own. The browser is fantastically capable, with great ideas and refinements. Their problem still seems to stem from slow development and delineation from FF and user's allegiance to FF and other browsers – which are all capable in their own right. I expect this dilemma is what nips at the heels of Flock all the time.
The New Stuff
Adding the new social media elements (accounts) to Flock is a cinch. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts are the latest additions and add immensely to Flock's appeal. Facebook fans will love the Flock element because they can see their friends images and status in the sidebar. I like the YouTube extension myself because I can either view/play my favorites or those of other users as well. The Twitter application also has a great feature set including direct messaging, profiles and etc., and there is also support for Piczo, Ma.gnolia and Photobucket and Flock promises more soon.
Flock's Twitter addition with media bar function
Stuff and More Stuff
Flock says they have tweaked or refined many bug issues, but beyond some slowness compared to the regular FF2, I never really noticed any serious ones in the first place. A new Web clipboard allows users to drag-and-drop virtually anything from the sidebar into Flock – this is cool. The Facebook addition has also enhanced the media bar utility by allowing for drag and drop uploads. All in all, Flock has added a fairly cool and effective set of social networking additions that will appeal to many.
Performance – The Final Frontier
Flock has had something of an uphill battle as so many have mentioned. For 2 years CEO Shawn Hardin and his team have incrementally added great features to the browser. In a very competitive niche – battling technical issues and user loyalty – I think they have done extremely well. At the end of the day though, I think they are going to have to hurry up with more services and ultimately a big addition (speed) or collaboration of some kind.
I asked Shawn early on if I could get my Stumble Upon account integrated and his technical support guys said I should ask SU about it. I was not sure how to take that – it was sort of like ordering a chicken sandwich and having the waitress tell me to go kill a chicken. I recommended Flock to everyone back in September and I still do – it is fun to use, feature rich and just plain cool – but is it enough? The only thing that would attract diehard FF2 fans to Flock would be more speed (Flock is not slow now) in conjunction with all these great features. Shawn told me that they were focused on basing the browser on some technology besides FF – so I think many will need to see that before they migrate.
Facebook on Flock and Sarah Brightman playing over Youtube