The latest version of social networking browser Flock has just been released for Mac with some interesting changes. I took it for a test-drive to see how Flock 3.5 performs.
Flock is a web browser which was originally based on Firefox but has been best known for broad integration with a wide range of social networking sites. Flock 3.5 however sees it changed considerably under the hood. Gone is the Firefox base in favor of a Chromium one which is interesting considering the recently released RockMelt has also based itself on Chromium and aims to steal the social networking par excellence crown from Flock. However, Flock beats it in the social networking stakes offering integration with LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube compared to just RockMelt's Facebook and Twitter.
When you start Flock, you're offered the chance to import settings from Firefox or Safari. Note that you can't have either of the latter open when you do this. The first thing you notice about the new Flock is that the Chromium engine has made it much faster. Browsing is lightening fast in Flock. It also seems much lighter on resources, barely registering in the CPU process list.
The social aspect has still been maintained well including special tools to keep track of your friends from different social networking sites, write directly on your blog, upload images to your photo sharing site, read your favorite feeds and access your favorite social sites (Digg, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) straight away.
However, the main drawback of Flock remains which is that all of the social networking features open on sidebars, which means you can't have all of them active at the same time. It's great though being able to update Twitter for example within your browser, without having to have a third party client open:
When you close Flock, it offers you the chance to sign-up for a Flock account which means that your previous pages and tabs will be remembered:
This is a default feature in browsers such as Firefox and Chrome which don't require an account so I don't see why you should have to sign-up for one. That's not to mention the privacy issues that having an account with a web browser raises.
Flock 3.5 is definitely the fastest Flock ever although the developers now have some serious competition to contend with in the form of RockMelt. Don't forget to check out Jon's Flock v Rockmelt comparison here.