I just saw a post on the Flock blog today reminding everyone of the test day last week for a pre-release version of Flock 0.8. The point of these test days are to find bugs and problems in Flock before it is released to the public, and it sounds like it should be in final form within a month or so.
Early this year I updated you on what was happening with this release, and it has progressed quite nicely since then. Since I’m a pre-release junkie I couldn’t help but see what has improved since my last look at the browser. After installation of the latest nightly I was presented with a nice loading screen:
Then the first thing that I saw…a stunning new interface. The placement of the bookmark toolbar (and it’s appearance) is perfect as it sits alongside of the shortcuts for many Flock-specific services. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget to mention the prominent notification bar that alerts users when feeds, and a few other things, are available:
A lot of the configuration and management of social networks is done through the sidebar now. This is a nice change because you’re no longer dealing with hordes of popups or wasted screen space when trying to manage accounts:
The blog editor could still use a little TLC because it really only offers the most basic features for writing articles. Seeing that this browser is built around social networks I would think that adding YouTube videos or Flickr images would be astoundingly easy, but such a feature appears to be missing. At least they do make your clipboard readily accessible:
Next up, the Flock feed reader. Not much has changed here, but as always it provides a quick and flexible way to read through your news. You can choose between viewing feeds in one or two columns, as well as a headlines or full-text view. It will automatically mark the feeds as read once you scroll past a news story, and will also scale any images in the articles so that they fit the width of the column:
This last screenshot helps put it all in perspective. It shows the bookmark manager for the sidebar, the Media Streams bar, and the My World start page. The Media Streams bar is cool because it lets you search sites like Flickr and YouTube while displaying the results right there in the bar, without having to visit a site. If you double-click on any of the results it will instantly take you to the page where that result was found.
My World is simply a start page for Flock that gives you a quick overview of everything that has been going on. It summarizes what your favorite sites, feeds, and media are so that they are only a click away. In other words it’s a homepage customized to you:
And I can’t forget one of the best improvements for the new Flock: Firefox 2! Now that Firefox 2 is used as the backbone (instead of Firefox 1.5) new features like spell checking, anti-phishing, and session restore are all part of the browser. Flock is shaping up to be a great browser for anyone actively involved in social networks, and when the final release hits the Web I’m sure there will be a lot of people raving about it.