Rockmelt for Web


I have been a Rockmelt fan for a long time.  When the browser first came out, I grabbed it and made it the default browser on my computers.  It was based on Chromium and had all of the hooks to social networks built right in.  It was the perfect combination of everything that I do most online.  Everything was just sort of arranged around the outside of the browser itself.  Because it was Chromium based, you could apply a Chromium theme to it (I love my green).  Extensions just worked and so it really acted like a well decked out social browser.  I originally wrote about it here.  Looking at the date, I can’t believe that it was back in 2010 when I got my first invitation to use the product.

The folks at Rockmelt have announced the end of life for that product.  It’s sad but things have really moved along there.  Recently, I blogged about the release of Rockmelt for iPad.  That brought a whole new way of reading the news for me.  I shared my thoughts about it here.

So, it was with great excitement that I read that the changes that were promised for the desktop were now available.  Their newest product is Rockmelt for Web.

I sure could have used it just this past weekend at the Google Summit.  The hotel that I stayed at had very weak wireless access.  I couldn’t get connected with my iPad but I could with my laptop.  Sadly, that stopped me from using Rockmelt for iPad!  Then, at the sessions themselves, it was a matter of shifting from one device to another to get the best of both worlds.  It would have been nice to just have Rockmelt in the browser.  Now I can.

It’s as simple as going to Rockmelt.com.  You’ll be asked to log in – at present you’ll have to request an invitation or already have a Rockmelt account from one of its other products.  I have five invites if you’re in a hurry to try it out.

Once logged in, you’ll see immediately a consistent approach to the display of information.  The categories that I have selected for the iPad version are instantly available on the web.

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The stories appear in the very popular tiled format.  You get a quick look at what the story is about.  Tapping the story opens it in your browser and you’re off.

See a good story?  You’ll be able to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest immediately by connecting your accounts.

The whole Rockmelt approach also lets you tag an emotion to any story.

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When I first saw this, I thought it was a little hokey and I didn’t really use it a lot.  However, when you use all the features of Rockmelt, they make so much sense.

Content to read can be selected via categories:

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You’ll notice that you can select by typical topic categories but you can also select by emotion!  When I just need to be entertained, I’ll wade my way through the WTF category.

Of course, what would social be if you couldn’t follow people and others couldn’t follow you.

I’m only into a couple of days working with Rockmelt for Web but have already decided that it’s going to be one of the tabs that automatically open when I launch my browser.  There’s just a neverending stream of interesting things to read and it’s all available in the browser.

For me and my addictive reading habits, this is a definite keeper.

Rockmelt for iPad


One of the browsers that I have installed on my computer is Rockmelt.  Based on Chromium, it very tightly integrates social media into the browser.  I really liked the concept and had made it my default browser for a while.  Then, I got a little scared because while Chrome and Chromium were updating with features and addressing security concerns, Rockmelt wasn’t.  So, even though it was a terrific concept, I sadly set it aside.

This week, in my reads, I read about a new version of Rockmelt – this time for the iPad.  That got my curiosity going.  Could they incorporate the same features into a portable browser?  Off I went to download it.

When I fired it up, the connections to social networking were needed so it continues the tradition of the desktop version.  I log in via Facebook and expected to open in a web browser like the desktop version.

At least that’s what I thought…

I was presented with a bunch of stories right off the bat.  How cool was that?!

I scrolled around for a while and realized that Rockmelt had already pulled in many great stories for me to read!

But, you’re not limited to that.  See that little bar at the top – if you browse, Rockmelt pulls down a categories list where you can pick and choose your content.

(Had to choose LMAO)

Interestingly, at the bottom, if you need more than the original list, you can “add more”.  And add and add and add and add — the suggestions go on as long as you can scroll.

Just click Follow and the topic is added to your preferences.

Want even more?  Because it’s social, before long you’ll get noticed that other Rockmelt users are following you and your reads.  Ignore them, follow them back, follow others — it’s social reading.

But the truly cool thing is that you ARE in a browser.  The open bar at the top is a really powerful Omni-type bar.  Start typing a concept or search key and Rockmelt responds with search results in little buttons indicating what type of results you’re retrieving.  If you know where you’re going, I suppose you could actually type the http:// but it was fun just to watch Rockmelt and Google pair to present the results in a search format.

It was at that point that I realized that I had philosophically changed the way I approached the web.  Normally, in a browser, I would open the page, go to a bookmark or start typing because I had a particular purpose for being there.  Here, I’m starting with some results and moving on from there.  Is this good?  I need to think that through.  It certainly is different.

The webpage rendering seems to be very faithful to the original.

I’m really interested in this release.  Yes, I have a number of other news readers and they do a darn fine job.  But, the fact that you’re also in a browser as you type seems so intuitive and easy to flip in and out of browsing and reading…

Need to share?

Of course you do.  What would social reading be without sharing.  In the top right corner of any webpage or reading, you’ll see the standard share button giving options to send to Facebook, Twitter, Email, and your printer.  For me, it would be nice to also send to Diigo or Instapaper.  But, we have canned “like”, “lol”, etc…  It’s a first release; I’m sure that there is more to come.

Like the desktop version, Rockmelt make use of a sidebar.  This time, you can move a webpage to your sidebar as a bookmark.  Interesting concept.

The only shortcoming at this point comes with the sharing feature.  It would be very nice if Rockmelt pulled the title from the article that you’re sharing.  Instead, the default message to your followers on social media is…

Of course, you could edit that out and replace it with your own content.  It would just be nice not to have to.

So, excited by this, I went to the Rockmelt site to see if I’d missed something with the desktop versions.  I’d just been relying on Rockmelt to upgrade itself.  There was no sign of a desktop version but there was an option to sign up for a new Macintosh version.  Of course, I signed up.  This could be really exciting.

Got an iPad?  Download the software from the iTunes store and put it through its paces.  You might just have a new favourite browser.