The speedy RockMelt Web browser that burst onto the scene in 2010 aimed to build your online social connections into your everyday Web-browsing experience. As a result, feeds from your Facebook friends draped your home page, but in a way that did not feel too cluttered.
RockMelt was built on the foundation of Chromium, the technology behind Google's fast Chrome browser. It had the backing of Marc Andreessen, an Internet pioneer who kick-started this whole browser business in the early 1990s with Mosaic.
After what the Silicon Valley company says was an eight-month endeavor, RockMelt is launching a browser for the iPad. As with its Mac and PC siblings, RockMelt for iPad is social. It's fun to look at, and it's meant to let you get to your content in a way that's faster than opening an empty window, pulling up the keyboard and entering a Web address. Even big fans of the iPad don't necessarily love typing on the tablet.
I rarely had to type a URL when browsing via RockMelt. But I sure did get around on the Web, serendipitously landing on news stories, stuff shared by friends via Facebook, and fluff, too.
You're greeted with content in RockMelt that's tailored to your interests, served up in large squares with a headline and picture. You can choose to view squares of the most popular stuff on the Web, or to customize the interface by category (Business, Cute, Foodie, Geek, News, Paparazzi, Sports, Travel and so on).
If something catches your eye as you scroll up and down the screen, tap the square to read the underlying article, view the picture or play the video. When you're done, pinch to close. You can swipe right to send the article to a sidebar panel to read or view later. If you find the producers of the content interesting, you can "follow" them, just as you follow folks or companies on Twitter. (You can sign into RockMelt via Facebook or Twitter.)
At the top of the sidebar are notifications about people who are following you.
To make the stuff you share with others on the Web more intriguing, you can add comments or assign what RockMelt calls "emoticodes." Choices include "like," "lol," "want," "aww," or "hmm." I should point out that choosing "like" doesn't mean you're giving it a "like" in Facebook. Emoticodes stay within the RockMelt universe.
My quick take is that RockMelt is more Flipboard than Safari. But it really is its own unique Web animal, and well worth checking out.
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