Flock’s first public release was back in October of 2005, and now nearly two-years later it is becoming a feature-packed social browser with no "stable" version in sight. Version 0.9 was officially made available early this morning along with a fresh website that guides users through the benefits of using their browser.
So what’s new in version 0.9? Back in May I covered a lot of the new features that they were working on along with my opinion on what I thought about them. The new interface is nothing short of stunning, but not everything is perfect in the land of Flock quite yet. So here is an overview of what you can play with in the latest release:
- MyWorld: a dynamic home base for all your favorite sites, feeds, and media streams
- Flock’s Media MiniBar provides fast access to both photos and videos on Flickr, Photobucket, Youtube, and Truveo.
- The new Accounts & Services sidebar offers easier configuration and enhanced discovery and activation logic
- Improved Favorites with folders and support for Ma.gnolia and del.icio.us
- Blogging: Improved UI, integrated Clipboard, support for all major Blog services including Blogger, WordPress, Typepad and Livejournal
- Security improvements
- In-line spell check
- Overall Theme upgrade
This version is based on Firefox 2, so it includes the in-line spell checking and session restore, both of which I’m glad to finally see in Flock. I’m not going to go over each and every feature again since I covered a lot of it in my previous review, but I thought I would recap the major things for those of you who are still contemplating whether to give it a shot.
The new Flock MyWorld is essentially a personalized homepage, but without all of the customized gadgets to add. It is a central location to see new feeds, your favorite sites, and images that have been uploaded by your friends on services like Flickr.
There’s no doubt that my favorite feature in Flock is their feed reader, but it didn’t receive many improvements this time around. That’s fine though because it still provides a quick way for users to shuffle through the news to find the interesting stuff!
I used the photo uploader to add some photos to my Flickr account. It went pretty smooth, and anyone uploading photos on a regular basis will enjoy having this feature integrated inside of the browser. It’s also nice that you can rotate and crop images from within the photo uploader, which can probably save you a step or two.
Flock is a social browser…there is no doubt about that. It offers seamless integration with services like Del.icio.us, Flickr, Photobucket, Blogger, YouTube, and many other Web 2.0 sites. An example of one way it works well with these services is by providing unobtrusive options that can be useful, such as these that are seen when hovering over an image on Flickr:
Even though everything sounds great with the new Flock, there is one drawback that can really be a deal killer. After just 15-minutes of browsing and opening no more than 5 tabs the browser hit an astonishing 125MB of memory. It didn’t stop there either, it kept climbing as I used more and more of the features such as the photo uploader, feed reader, and MiniBar. Of course Firefox has its own problems with memory management from time-to-time, but this just adds to it.
This problem is actually a pretty big deal for me, and eliminates any chance of me using this as my primary browser right now. They are definitely on the right track, but I think they need to settle down on adding new features for a little bit and focus on improving the memory usage. Otherwise it will continue to get worse before it gets better.