Thist is my 3rd post so far about Flock (the Web Browser), as I’m trying it. There will probably be one or two more because I have more to say about it but I’m working on some music right now and I don’t want spend the time to go all-out, all at once, and do a big ol’ review-of-Flock post so it’s gonna have to be bit-by-bit like this.
Feed Bookmarking is one of the main reasons I have refused to switch to Firefox, Safari’s way of doing it being way better than Firefox’s. I am subscribed to a ton of blogs in different categories including the Semantic Web, General Technology, Social Software News, My Friends’ Blogs, SEO News, IPTV News, many craigslist queries (as feeds of course), as well all the craigslist free stuff in my area (you never know!). Flock has a few different sidebars, one of which is the Feed Reader.
(A picture of the Flock Feed-Reader Sidebar with just a few of my things added)
Like Safari, Flock’s reader lets you see an individual feed or an aggregate of multiple feeds by folder. Two things that Safari doesn’t do are:
1. Flock has a ‘Mark as Read’ button. OMG you have no idea how many times I’ve wished for this! After a weekend of being a normal person who doesn’t read a ton of blogs, I’ve often wanted to flush a feed and start fresh. If I don’t stay on top of reading everything, or at least letting it display for a second, next thing I know I have like a THOUSAND unread posts from somewhere like digg/technoloy and even opening the feed is crash-material. With Flock, I can just right-click on the title of the feed and, as metallica would say, kill em all. Thanks Flock.
(a Safari Bookmark Folder full of unread Feed Articles… Yuk.)
(Flock’s Right-Click Menu from a Feed’s title. Yay.)
2.UPDATE: (This is probably a much bigger deal) Flock’s Browser-Based Feed-Reader will sync with a few different online ones. Yes folks, sync. I said Sync. No It Doesn’t. It only allows OPML import and export, and a feature that makes it so when you click on a link to a feed, it will take you to the subscribe page of your online reader, similar to how a bookmarklet works for del.icio.us or digg.com. No syncing going on around here.
I have tried online readers in the past and have always preferred my feed-reading to take place in the drag-n-dropable realm of my closest friend, OSX. Many, many, many times I have been away from my machine and wished I could access my feeds, which of course is the best, if not the only argument for online feed-readers, as far as I’m concerned. Since Safari can’t do this syncing thing, I have had 2 choices: Either stick with Safari and have my feeds in a UI I like but only have access to them at all when I’m on my machine, or use an online reader and have a UI I hate all the time but with the assurance that I wont miss a beat if I’m camping out on another computer. I have chosen the former,
but now, if I do switch over to Flock as my primary browser, which is looking pretty likely at this point, especially after pecking out this post, I can have my RSS cake and eat it too.
I have to say though, I haven’t tried the syncing yet so there may be reasons to not use it but I’m definitely going to try that out soon. I’ve tried Bloglines out now, and although Bloglines is pretty cool, there is definitely a shortfall with regard to integration in this area. I will continue too keep my feeds backed up at Bloglines, but read with my browser here on the desktop.
One big annoyance with Flocks feed-reader is this: When looking at a feed, the things you have not seen are bold (in safari they’re a different color), and Flock even knows how far down you’ve scrolled which is nice, but the effect is that as you scroll and scan, the headings are changing from bold to normal! Changing font-weight is just about the worst thing you can do to aid someone in scanning a lot of headlines/summaries. It’s a nice idea gone terribly wrong. I would like it better if they were blue, but then turned black or something. Or a Three-Second delay maybe? … Anything but going from bold to plain instantly as I scroll and scan. Awful. Why don’t you shine a super-powerful bright light in my eyes while you’re at it, Flock? (or better yet, just quietly change that feature to make it a little better)
Finally (not really finally, cause there are going to be more posts about my quest for a better Web Browser(and Firefox is NOT it)), I have to say that another thing I really like about Flock so far is that it supprts multiple HomePages. Duh! When I launch the browser, I pretty much always go to the same few places: My FaceBook, my MySpace, My Blog Stats on WordPress Etc… Flock’s Social Sidebar has Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and many others covered. I launch a window and all that info is loaded and up-to-date. Thank You. Finally! As for MySpace and my Blog Stats and any other miscellaneous pages I glance at frequently, why load them one-at-a-time, one-after-the-other? Just give ’em to me! Flock allows you to do a lovely little thing that reveals itself when you are in the preferences for the app. In the Homepage section it says: “Use current pageS.” with an “S” as in plural. More than one.
(Flocks Home Page Settings)
When I saw this I thought:
“No. That would be cool but… No way.”
I was wrong! It works. You can have different pages as your homepage and they’re all tabbed and pretty waiting for you to do your glancing at them when you launch the window. What’s next, telepathy? Ok, maybe it’s not that big of a deal but if things keep moving in this direction, browsing may just get a little more helpful here and there. Baby steps.
Wow. I think I’m having a good reaction to Flock. No they’re not paying me or anything. I saw a little spot about Flock on Mahalo the other day and thought it looked like they had done some cool things with it.
Comments welcome of course.