Having never heard about Flock before, I was curious to see if it was just another browser jumping on the social networking bandwagon. Being a dedicated Firefox user, taking advantage of its rich user experience at work and at home, Flock will have to work its pants off to get me to use it as my browser of choice — even 30% of the time. When you consider how far Firefox has come in a short amount of time, it’s pretty staggering to think that we once surfed the web without it. Ouch, my head hurts just thinking of having to use IE as my primary browser again!
When I first downloaded Flock (1.0 RC3), I was impressed with how gorgeous it looked. I use a Mac, so I’m used to how good everything looks in OS X, and Flock looks like it came right off Apple’s production line.
The toolbar looks very slick, but also very familiar — which is a good thing. Everything that you’re normally used to having in a toolbar is right where you expect it to be, but there are a few crucial changes that make a world of difference.
Flock has done a really good job of not making the toolbar overly cramped. Everything you could possibly want access to is right in your toolbar. Favorite media sites such as Youtube, Photobucket and Flickr are neatly organized. Next to that are your favorite sharing sites, like del.icio.us and ma.gnolia. There’s also a category for blog sites such as WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal and TypePad. But what makes this so great? You can access them via your bookmarks, right? Well, if you have an account with any of these sites, and use them often, the information is at your fingertips.
At the very far left of the toolbar are nine different icons – become familiar with these, make them your friend, because they’ll become very useful in your flock experience. From left to right – ‘My World’, ‘Open People Sidebar’, ‘Open Media Bar’, ‘Open Feeds Sidebar’, ‘Open Favorite Sites Sidebar’, ‘Open Accounts and Services Sidebar’, ‘Close Web Clipboard Sidebar’, ‘Open Blog Editor’, and ‘Open Photo Uploader’.
My World is your portal to all your favorite access points on the web. The favorite sites list contains all of your favorite social media sites that you frequently visit. Clicking on any of the links will open the website in a new tab. The middle list contains your your favorite feeds. You can add any RSS feeds that you want to follow. The list on the far right contains your favorite media. Right now I only have Flickr and del.icio.us listed, but the possibilities are endless.
On your My World page, there’s also a navigation list that contains access to the vital areas of a blog (similar to the nine icons in the toolbar). For example, if you click on the Media navigation link, your Flickr feed — in all its glory — will be displayed, and you can scroll it to your heart’s content. You can also easily add your favorite streams by clicking on the media streams drop down menu. Once you’ve done that, the pictures will display in your Favorite Media list as well as thumbnails for you to browse through.
As a social networking hound, I want to know who’s checking out my feeds, images and blog posts. Perhaps more importantly, I can see when they’ve updated theirs. The ‘People Sidebar’, lets me know which friends of mine are online. Take my twitter account for example. When I first logged into twitter, Flock asked me to log out, and back in again, so Flock could add my account to my media selection. Not only did flock do that effortlessly and with ease, it automatically added my twitter account to my ‘people sidebar’. Now I can see when my friends have updated their twitter, or have posted on mine.
The My World page has a list of common social services and websites. If you have an account with any of these services, you can click on the link and it will be added to your My Accounts list. Even better, once Flock has recognized that you have an account with a website on its available services list, it will be removed and added to your My Accounts list — it’s that smart! If you have a blog with WordPress.com, Blogger, Blogsome or LiveJournal, you can add blog entries on the fly once you’ve tied your account in with Flock. One thing to note, though, several of the listed sites on the available services list are ones I don’t use. So, it would be handy to have the function of manually removing those.
Everything about Flock is very well streamlined, minimizing your hassle and maximizing your enjoyment. But I use Firefox — A lot! It serves a purpose for work-related browsing with its increased add-ons making my life a lot easier. However, what about when I’m not at work and don’t need all those extra add-ons? Can Flock replace Firefox? From what I’ve seen so far, it lives up to the hype surrounding it. Once further extensions are added to Flock, expect it to take off and perhaps even compete with Firefox. If you’re a social media, Web 2.0 geek, then Flock is a must. Oh, did I mention that Flock is available on Windows, Mac and Linux? Get your Flock on at http://flock.com/.