For the first time ever, the social Web browser called Flock is turning to Google's Chromium project to provide the architecture for its next major release. Currently in beta form, the new Chromium-inspired Flock represents a complete redesign, and is the first social browser built on Google's platform.
"Our interactions with people online have changed everything about the way we discover, shop, work and play," said Shawn Hardin, CEO of Flock. "The new Flock is designed to naturally complement the value we place in relationships and puts you at the center of your friends and their conversations while you browse the Web. Conventional browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari aren’t built to bring together the conversations and content that matter to each user. Flock is the only browser with the best of the social Web built-in."
Previous versions of Flock, including the latest stable release, have all been powered by Mozilla and built around Firefox, so why make the change to Chromium? According to Flock's development team, "there are lots of reasons why... and the main ones are the thoughtful architecture, the elegance of the underlying code, and the incredible speed of the browser."
Flock claims its new beta starts up instantly and loads pages and complex Internet apps much faster than either IE or Firefox. During our limited test drive, we found this to be generally true, although there are still some kinks to be ironed out - our icon on Maximum PC, for example, wouldn't load in the Flock beta (see screenshot below).
Any potential bugs aside, the overhauled Flock browser will come as a welcome change to social networking nuts who have grown fond of Google's Chrome browser. Flock supports numerous social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, all seamlessly integrated.
Limiting the time it takes to reach the desktop from the moment the PC is turned on (no pun intended) may not be the holy grail of personal computing but it is something that merits attention. Google is just not chasing distant dreams in the “cloud” with its Chrome OS. It is also trying to address – or exploit - the growing mass resentment of slow boot times. In fact, the focal point of most reports about Google's operating system in the mainstream media has been its ability to boot in just 7 seconds. Not that tech-savvy people don't like quick boot times, but this is wonderful publicity as it is simple enough to stoke the curiosity of tech greenhorns, the majority.
Apparently, two extensions already exist: Google Mail Checker and BuildBot Monitor. Mail Checker keeps an eye on your Google Mail, displaying the number of messages in your inbox on the Google Chrome toolbar. BuildBot keeps track of the current status of the Chromium build, and notifies you when a newer build is available for download.
According to Siegler, installation is a breeze: “Installing these extensions is a breeze. You click the “Install” link, the file downloads, you click to run it, it asks if you’re sure you want to install the extension, you say “yes”, and you’re done. There is no need to restart Chrome/Chromium, they work right away.” Unlike Firefox it’s load and go. And Siegler reports that Chrome extensions don’t, yet, slow down the browser, like they do in Firefox.
According to Greg Spencer, a Google Chromium programmer, hardware 3D acceleration might be coming to Chrome sooner than you think.
"The O3D team is working on getting O3D integrated into the Chromium build, and we're close to being able to complete our first step towards integration: To build the O3D plugin as part of the Chromium code base, and link it into Chromium DLL," Spencer stated in a blog post.
Chromium is the open-source project behind Google Chrome and Spencer said that he'll be making the Windows build of Chromium be dependent upon building O3D as part of the build process.
What this means to Joe User -- or more appropriately, Joe Gamer -- is an extra incentive for Web developers to build browser-based games capable of tapping into 3D graphics.