Flock, the “Social Browser” has released version 2.5. This is a major update to the application, with significant improvements including easy dragging-and-dropping of images to share and better Twitter integration, so I was eager to give it a try.
There’s really a lot to like about the Flock browser; the development team has clearly put a lot of time and effort into optimizing it for the popular social networks. I was immediately impressed with out easy it was to get Flock going with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Gmail. As soon as I started the browser for the first time, I found a very friendly “Get started by connecting to these services” page that guided me through the whole thing. Once I entered all my information, the power of Flock as a social networks aggregator became readily apparent.
All of my Facebook and Twitter contact status updates are combined (but can be sorted separately, if I’d like) by Flock in a nice sidebar that keeps me constantly logged in. I can reply, make comments on others’ status updates, or post urls straight from that sidebar. In addition, Facebook chat and notifications are integrated straight into the status bar of the Flock browser itself, so I rarely have to actually visit the Facebook website to stay connected.
The Gmail integration in Flock is quite nice as well. It will automatically keep me updated on the status of my Inbox, and lets me preview message subjects before logging in to the main Gmail website. There’s also a neat one-button email feature that makes it easy to share any website via email with a single click from the Flock url bar. The innovative “Media Bar” provides a slick interface for quick browsing, searching, and sharing from sites like YouTube and Flickr with a minimal amount hassle.
The final things I really like about Flock are are the Web Clipboard (a cool little applet that lets you store images and URLs for later) and the integrated blog editor. All of this is very nice, very well done, and tightly integrated.
The problem for me is that even though I recognize that Flock has done some great stuff here…it’s just too much information in my face. There’s always a notification begging my attention somewhere, and the shear amount of visual clutter on the Flock interface is distracting when I’m trying to get some work done. Of course, you don’t have to stay logged into all of your services all the time, but if you’re going to do that, why not just use standard Firefox?
Flock might be the browser I fire up for an intentional social media sharing session, but I probably couldn’t make it my primary browser, simply because of the distracting nature of being constantly plugged in to all the web chatter. That being said, if you’re a total social social media aficionado then Flock might be right up your alley. Even if you’re not, Flock still might be a great app to bring up every once in a while for dedicated social time.