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Miscellaneous

Flock breaks out some cool new features

I just had a look at a Flock testing build, something I havn’t done since Flock released their first beta (0.7). I really like where Flock is going now. They are incorporating the concept of people into the browser so instead of one topbar for photos, you now have a sidebar for almost all the main functions. There are small buttons on the left that open the sidebar (or close it) with many different features such as the people sidebar which you can configure to work with myspace, youtube, and the already familiar to flock users, Flickr and Photobucket. Unfortunatly you can’t currently upload videos to YouTube but I’m sure it will be in the works when the release rolls around. Even so, you can view channels, interact with your friends and modify your own channel. The myspace and flickr functionality is very similar but very cool looking and very useful. So far I keep having to sign into myspace every time I load the browser up so avoiding that happening would be a logical step because if you have to sign in to myspace you might as well not use the flock myspace tool. Anyway, you can edit your profile, post comments and private messages to your friends, view their profile pics and other images. You can even see what has been happening recently.

The blogging module isn’t finished clearly right now because you can’t blog with wordpress unless it’s a wordpress.com hosted account. Blogger beta and most notably Myspace blogs are now supported which is pretty cool. I’m still getting my head around the new favourites system in the new version. They’ve ditched flock favourites instead going with the generally more used bookmarks. It works with delicious and they have said they are working on adding others such as magnolia. I have yet to try delicious synching because at this stage I’d rather not risk all my favourites getting deleted in the process which has happened when I first started using flock. I’ll wait until they release the actual finished version first.

Other things include a better web clipboard which is now a sidebar module instead of a bottom bar and now doesn’t open on hover as far as I can see. I may have missed dragging something into the gray space on the thin left bar or something. Either way I don’t really mind having to click the button to open the bar first before I drag something because if you’re going to write a blog post, clicking one button isn’t something anyone will have a problem with. It makes it feel much more sturdy and you don’t feel like the bar could collapse as your trying to drag something in there.

One more thing is the news bar. This is essentially exactly the same as in the last release due to the fact that it was one of the only features to use the sidebar along with the history. They have tweaked the look of it and it really looks good. The functionality itself is as far as I can see completely unchanged. I can’t say I blame them though because this part of the app feels the most solid and least gimmicky of everything.

There are a few things that need fixing before the release but I know they will deliver. I’m not sure when they’re planning on releasing but I’m sure there will be significant improvements by then ontop of the great stuff already on display. What I really like about the new version is the fact that it makes Flock stand out from Firefox. I think it’s important that flock doesn’t look like firefox with different buttons when someone first sees it because they won’t explore it further. The new sidebar definitely does this. One other thing that was weird using this version was where the home button was. I kept going up to where the reload button is and not finding it. They initially have it down in the bookmarks menu so I decided to drag it up to the main bar.

So in conclusion I like it a lot. I would encourage people to go and download a testing build from flock.com. However, if you do use flock as your main browser and you value keeping your settings as they are right now and don’t want any headaches losing favourites, then don’t get it until the version release.

If you are ok with this and have FF to use for a while then go for it. The whole aim of Flock was / is to allow people to be social online by providing them the tools to do this in the simplest way. I think this release really does a lot to bring the browser closer to that aim.