There must be money in free browsers for Mac and Windows users. The latest to get all slicked up and polished and shined is Flock. Flock?
Flock. It’s the browser for people who are social, shutterbugs, bloggers, media junkies, news hounds, and who love a busy browser life.
Flock bills itself as the social browser for people who like to be connected; whatever that means. What it appears to mean is that browsers might become more specialized for specific groups of people.
From what I can see, Flock, though appearing to be a socialized browser, still acts like a general browser with more options. Flock is based on Mozilla’s Firefox browser rendering engine, so what you see on screen is likely to be the same as in Firefox.
By my count, the major web browsers have three rendering engines; WebKit, which is what Apple uses in Safari (also in OmniWeb and others); Mozilla, used in Firefox, Camino, Flock and others, and Opera, which is used by Opera.
After the basic web page rendering, all the browsers diverge rapidly to occupy their own space. Safari is lean and unobtrusive. Firefox is loaded with extensions. Camino is Mac-like. OmniWeb is feature laden.
Flock takes a youthful, social approach while dipping into the Fisher-Price school of design. It’s colorful, curvaceous, and cluttered, opposite the understated elegance of Safari. Flock lets users drag and drop photos and videos, text and URLs, and provides easy-to-use tools for access to Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, YouTube, and more.
The Flock photo uploader lets you upload hundreds of photos at a time to Flickr, FaceBook, Picasa, Photobucket, and other online photo sites. Bloggers will like the ability to use the Blog Editor to post entries to Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, Zanga, and LiveJournal.
Google’s Gmail and Yahoo! Mail are integrated (isn’t that the case with all browsers that open up Gmail and Yahoo! Mail?) in the browser and have their own buttons.
While Safari’s preferences are simple, Flock keeps in tune with Firefox and has preferences for everything, seemingly preferences for the preferences.
Flock is RSS savvy and parks RSS news feeds in the left sidebar so web pages are just a click away. The MyWorld button on the toolbar displays Widgets and buttons for FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, in addition to major RSS news feeds.
What? Your browser doesn’t have a People sidebar? You are soooo 2007.
The sidebar also has buttons for Favorites, Accounts and Services, the drag-and-drop Web Clipboard to save clippings and photos. Oh, Accounts and Services lists all the online, well, uh, accounts and services you can register; from Blogger to Picasa to Twitter and sites in between.
Flock is aiming to create a community of users and supporters by tossing in to the browser experience every popular extension, add-on, and gimmick that might be used by plenty of people.
While Safari focuses on simplicity, ease-of-use, and high quality page rendering, Flock focuses on a stack of features for browser users who clearly love the busy life.
Granted, Flock is actually well organized, and considering how many different features are stuffed into the window, does not appear as cluttered as does Firefox when loaded with half a dozen extensions.
Not a bad deal for free, huh?
With so many browser choices available for Mac users these days, which one is best? The answer to that may be more simple than you think. There’s isn’t a best browser. In fact, I’m willing to guestimate that many Mac users actually use more than one browser (probably Safari and Firefox), and maybe more.
Flock is free, works on Macs, Windows PCs, and Linux PCs. It’s a much different experience than either Firefox or Safari, and far different than Camino.
So, the question of the day is, ‘Do you use more than one browser on your Mac? If so, which browsers and why more than one. OK, that’s more than one question. Share your perspective and experience in the Comments section below.