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RockMelt Browser Launches for iPad

6:59 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
RockMelt is launching a social browser for the iPad. (Photo: RockMelt)
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McLean, VA (written by Edward C. Baig/USA Today) -- 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. And it had the backing of Marc Andreessen, an Internet pioneer who kick-started this whole browser business in the early 1990s with Mosaic.

Now 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 is fun to look at. And it is meant to let you get to your content in a way that is faster than opening an empty window, pulling up the keyboard and then entering a Web address. Indeed, 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 - yes, that's the Web for you.

You're greeted with content in RockMelt that is 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 you can choose 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, you tap the square to read the underlying article, view the picture or play the video. When you're done reading you pinch to close it. If you don't want to dive into a story or other content immediately, you can swipe right to send the article to a sidebar panel to read or view later. If you find the producer of the content interesting, you can "follow" them, just as you follow folks or companies on Twitter. (In fact, you can sign into RockMelt via Facebook or Twitter).

At the top of 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." Your choices for now are "like," "lol," "want," "wtf?," "aww," or "hmm." I should point out that choosing "like" doesn't mean mean you're giving it a "like" in Facebook. Emoticodes for now 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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