There's a new web browser on the block. Flock. Based on the Firefox platform, it's a browser that has made much of its digital media capabilities. Now it has gone one stage further, integrating social media into the browser. And the result is an interesting cacophony of the web in 2007.
The new version 1.0 browser stores your Facebook (or/and Twitter) login details so that your friends list appears in a pane on the left of your browser window, ordered by recentness of status updates.
It's surprisingly alluring (and so distracting) but of more note is the way the browser also deals with YouTube and Flickr through the use of a ribbon at the top of the browsing pane. There is integrated uploading for these sites and for Facebook - meaning that media can be handled really quite easily.
Also integrated (though, like the ribbon, not new) is a direct blogging tool. It'll send stuff straight to Blogger (or another provider). But it has a serious limitation in the shape of the image tool which only enables you to add a URL - there is no ability to actually upload a picture. Unless you spot blog ramblings without visual aid, this renders the tool virtually useless.
Clip and store
Another feature which misses the mark is the 'My World' start page. It's like Google's personalised page, iGoogle, but not as good, although at least it loads quickly.
There are some useful bits though, including the Web Clipboard sidebar. It enables you to drag absolutely anything to it from a web page, such as an image or chunk of text for later retrieval. Quite useful should you want to blog several chunks of text, but not have the time to do it at present.
Flock won't be to everyone's taste. The extra features don't get in the way if you don't want to use them, while several sources suggest it is more stable than Firefox itself. But if you're a current user of Firefox or IE7 and don't social network, store pictures on Flickr or want to blog, then there's not a lot here for you. Having said that, the integration of some of these web 2.0 services is excellent.