Monday, 27 April 2009

Two Great Browser to Try

Two new Web browsers have recently become available for exploring the Internet. Google Chrome and Flock take radically different approaches to the browsing experience and I recommend you take a look at them when you get a chance.

Google Chrome is a minimalist’s browser. It doesn’t offer a multitude of features, but it’s very fast and solid as a rock. It relies heavily on tabs when visiting different sites and each tab runs in its own process. This keeps the browser from crashing from a page error or some misbehaved plug-in, and prevents pages in the background from slowing down the foreground window. I like Chrome’s history function. When you open a new tab or window it displays thumbnails and links to your most recently vistited pages.

Chrome offers a single address bar for both URLs and keywords. Google is the default search engine, but it can be switched to others—Wikipedia, Aol, Yahoo, etc. The address bar has a fast auto-suggest function. For flying around the Web from site to site, Chrome is a jet fighter. However, if you mostly stay put on a collection of actively fed “home” pages, Flock may be the browser for you. It’s a mega-cruise ship.

Flock is Firefox on social media steroids. Flock takes a framed approach to visiting the Social Media Web, grabing feeds from places, such as: Facebook, Twitter and MySpace into sidebars and YouTube selections into a headband. Flock works best opened full-screen on a big, wide, LCD display. Beware! The shear number and variety of tool bars, control tabs, bookmarks, menus and search boxes can overwhelm.

Flock, by default, remembers the sites you had loaded when you last quit and reopens them. It also opens a generated page, “My World” that captures all your various feeds, messages and pings. I like the way Flock integrates with Gmail, and find it useful as an “active desktop” – a one-stop site that I scan every so often to keep in the mix as I’m doing other work. Flock pops-up a standard blog editor when I want to post something and just about anything can be shared with a drag-n-drop action.

The online support documentation provided by the these two new browsers also provide a facinating contrast. Google wrote a Chrome comic book that teaches you how to use Chrome with a technical depth that’s actually readable. Flock has uploaded a series of youTube videos showing Flock’s Features in action. Check it out, you’ll get a better idea of what Flock is like and I won’t have to insert a screenshot here.

Google Chome is only available now for Windows. When it becomes available for the Mac, I’ll probably be using both Flock and Chrome more often than Firefox and Safari.

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