Flock


Average User Rating:
3.4
out of 19 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
3.5
File Size:
523.22KB
Date Added:
November 30, 2010
Price:
Free
Operating Systems:
Windows XP/Vista/7
Total Downloads:
25,124
Downloads Last Week:
34
Additional Requirements:
Not available

Editors' Note: The Download Now link will download a small installer file to your desktop. Remain online and double-click the installer to proceed with the actual download.

Editors' review

First take:

Flock made its name as a Firefox remix that came loaded with custom add-ons for tightly integrating social networking with daily Web browsing. Just opened to the public, the Flock 3 beta keeps its social goals intact while replacing its Firefox base with Google-supported Chromium. The new Flock experience is vastly different than before, and is related to the old version in name only.

Flock divorces Firefox, snuggles up to Chrome instead

It's currently available only for Windows, although Flock CEO Shawn Hardin said in an interview two weeks ago at the CNET offices in San Francisco that a Mac beta should be ready in July. The new Flock strips the social networking support down to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. By limiting initial support to the two dominant social networking players and the two dominant media-sharing sites, but making access to them fast and generally comprehensive, the new Flock is able to demonstrate why it's useful without overwhelming users.

Minor interface changes belie the significant changes in how Flock operates. Being based on WebKit, it looks similar to Google Chrome and Apple Safari. The tabs aren't flush with the top of the browser as they are in Chrome, and the new home page is set to your Flock account manager. There's a big Google search box in the middle of the page, which is part of a new search monetization partnership between the two companies, and text links to your most-recently visited sites. At the top, just below the bookmarks bar, there are links to the Flock-enhanced features favorites and groups.

In addition to the repurposing of the Home button and the Flockification of Favorites, there are three other changes. Next to the Favorites button there's a new "Talk about this page" button that instantly shrinks the URL and lets you share it via Facebook and Twitter. On the other side of the location bar, the split preferences buttons have been merged into one to create room for a hide button for the new sidebar.

When you launch the new Flock, it'll ask you to add your Facebook and Twitter login details. You can opt out, but there's no point to Flock if you're not using it for social networking. You must also create a Flock account to take advantage of the social networking tools. This allows you to access your Flock settings from any Flock browser, but it does carry the standard risks of remote "cloud" storage.

Once you're set up, it will automatically open with its new sidebar open. Situated on the right, this sidebar marks the first Chromium sidebar, according to Hardin. More importantly for users, the sidebar becomes the social networking nexus in the new Flock by creating a stream of your friends' updates.

When you download the beta, you'll be asked to create a Flock account and provide your login data. But chances are, if you're using social networking, you're pretty much okay with that.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Built mostly in HTML5, the sidebar itself is fairly configurable and feels lightweight. There's a button at the top to hide it, and it moves quickly. The immediate function of the sidebar is to let you read and reply to updates without leaving the page you're on, but it does much more. The friends stream comes with a broad range of filters to make it easy to see only the updates that you need. Not only can you limit it to Facebook only or Twitter only, but you can also narrow each of those streams further. You can slim Twitter down to direct messages only or new tweets only. Facebook can be put on a major diet, too, including limiting Facebook updates to status-only or filtering out wall posts.

Flock supports multiple accounts from the same service, but you're only allowed to be signed into multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously. Users can also create groups of friends, and filter the stream by them, too. Two group titles come with Flock, Best Friends and Co-workers, but the browser leaves it to you to fill them out. This can be done by hitting the Edit button at the bottom of the list, or through the Groups tab on the Flock home page. Filling them out will give you a pretty good hands-on tutorial on how to create your own groups.

The new sidebar, a first for Chromium, allows users to maintain a single friend stream. You can also create Groups to help you keep them all organized.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

There's a strong HTML5 bent to how to you do things in Flock 3. You can drag and drop friends to reorganize them, or click on them and then choose an action. Flock does not yet automatically merge contacts, although Hardin said that was feature is planned for later this summer. For now, you can drag and drop contacts to merge them into a single identity.

In general, the new minor features work well, although that's not always true. Unlike Chrome, Flock supports RSS feeds out of the box. It also lets you Favorite the feed itself, and the new Flock makes sharing those favorites much easier than in other browsers. You can toggle a Favorited item as being public or private, or opt-in to setting your Flock profile page to public to provide a single space for your Favorited items to land on.

The "Talk about this page" button for Facebooking or Twittering a page is a long-overdue browser feature that obviates copying and pasting. The "superbar" approach to the location bar, where default search engine searches are combined with history and bookmark searches, has been bolstered by Flock-specific matches from your friends.

However, it does come with a bucketload of news-related bookmarks in the bookmark bar. It's not clear why and it adds an unnecessary amount of clutter, basically rendering the bar useless unless you clean it out first. Similarly, the unified options menu to the right of the location bar might overwhelm some users.

A minor new feature that's quite useful is the "Talk about this page" button. It instantly shortens a URL and gives you a window from which you can Facebook or tweet it.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The beta felt fairly stable over a day and a half of testing, although installing it did feel slower than other browsers. Once loaded, there were no noticeable hang-ups.

Flock has seen impressive growth in the past year, much of it coming from Facebook users, according to Hardin. He said that 87 percent of people who've recommended Flock on Facebook have recommended it to six or more friends, and that it's the most popular Facebook-managing desktop app. The browser is the sixth most-popular browser in Europe, he added, behind the five major players of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. Through May 2010, Flock took about 0.07 percent of the global market, a tiny number but rapidly growing according to the graph.

What this all means for Flock's relationship with Mozilla isn't as clear as you'd expect. Flock will continue to support the Mozilla-based branch of the browser, and anticipates releasing version 2.6 soon. Flock has had a relationship with Mozilla for five years, said Hardin, and he added that no decision has been made yet about severing it.

Originally, Flock's success appeared to be dictated by the willingness of users to take a performance hit in order to gain its robust social networking features. The new Flock 3 beta reduces the overall feature set while providing more focused features, and anecdotal performance hits weren't noticeable. Assuming the browser can maintain its nimble behavior, the big question about Flock is whether users want the utility and distraction of always-on social networking.

Publisher's Description

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More Products to Consider

All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    3.4

    out of 19 votes

    • 5 star: 5
    • 4 star: 7
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 1
    • 1 star: 4
  • Current Version:

    3.3

    out of 6 votes

    • 5 star: 1
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 1
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

    Results 1-6 of 6

  • 4 stars

    "Flock was good!"

    March 05, 2012   |   By cap27

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    Flock used to a be a great alternative to Firefox until they decided to which their focus onto other adventures.

    Cons

    Too bad the website is closed but they did give fair warning. I miss Flock.

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  • 1 stars

    "Fake Browser!"

    January 31, 2012

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    There no pros about flock!

    Cons

    Flock does not even exist! Flock's website is gone!

    Summary

    Flock sucks big time!!!

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

  • 5 stars

    "good browser"

    April 05, 2011   |   By romonechevy2

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    it keeps and inports your web favorites

    Cons

    no cons man

    Summary

    get it

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  • 3 stars

    "It works -but I like Mozilla Flock better-"

    March 28, 2011   |   By andreaborman

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    If you like Google Chrome but for your own reasons don't want to use it but need a Chrome browser. This may suit you.There are now many clones of Google Chrome.

    Cons

    This is exactly the same as Google Chrome but I already have chromium and so I want to use Mozilla Flock not this.Chrome browsers are not compatible with every site like Mozilla Flock and Firefox 3 is.So we need both browsers.

    Summary

    This browser is as good as Chromium and Google Chrome,is Chrome based and works as good as all of the other Google Chrome clones. Like Comodo Dragon and others do. But because I use Chromium,which I am happy with I don't see the need for this version of Flock.They have already got rid of Firefox 3 and replaced it with Firefox 4 which is like Chromium. But I hope they don't do the same with Mozilla Flock.As I like everything about the original Firefox 3 and Mozilla Flock 2. And Mozilla flock is based on Firefox 3 and is another version of it.I find I need both types of browser so I have Chromium but I also have Mozila Flock as well.But I don't think they should get rid of Mozilla Flock and replace it with this. this version of Flock will suit those people who need a Chrome browser but don't want Google Chrome. But even though you can install and run both Mozilla Flock and this Flock 3 side by side each other. I don't need this version of Flock. So I am staying with Mozilla flock 2.6.1 and I won't be upgrading to this. Andrea Borman.

    Updated on Mar 29, 2011

    If Mozilla want to bring out their own Chrome based browser-fine. But they should NOT get rid of Mozilla Flock and replace it with Flock 3 beta. As I and most people love Mozilla flock just the way it is now. It was the first browser I used when I stopped using Internet Explorer.And I and other people want to carry on using Mozilla Flock for many years to come. I and other people do not want to change from Mozilla Flock to this-Flock 3 beta. Andrea Borman.

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  • 4 stars

    "Flock lets you enjoy the benefits"

    February 19, 2011   |   By che_guille

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    integrate with LinkedIn and offer Flock for the Mac. With LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr all together in your Sidebar, its simple to follow and search friends and family and made it that much easier to organize your online content

    Cons

    Nothing to say

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  • 3 stars

    "Fantastic Browser"

    February 16, 2011   |   By Hotfunk

    Version: Flock 3.5

    Pros

    fast browsing easy to use rather too simple

    Cons

    No drag and drop like previous version and passwords and login information are never saved after saving them

    Summary

    I would recommend a drag and drop area as well as well and saved passwords options that work

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  • Results 1-6 of 6

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