Who's Afraid of Chrome? Flock 2 Released With Even More Bells And Whistles

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Design philosophies could hardly be further apart. Google’s ironically named Chrome browser, which launched last month, advanced the notion that browsers ought to be neither seen nor heard. Like operating systems, they should sit obediently in the background and make sure that the applications on top of them run quickly, reliably and safely.

Flock has always taken the opposite approach, insisting that the browser should provide a lot of upfront functionality on its own, not fade out of sight. Tonight’s release of Flock 2.0 – which brings the Mozilla-based browser up-to-speed with Firefox 3 technology and adds new support for MySpace and media RSS – reasserts this notion by giving the browser an even higher level of visibility than before.

Flock 2.0 is the first browser to take advantage of media RSS, a standard developed by Yahoo that syndicates rich content like photos and videos much like regular RSS syndicates blog posts. Now Flock users can add media RSS feeds to their My World start pages from any website that provides them, such as 12seconds.tv and Qik. VP of Marketing and Business Development Dan Burkhart describes media RSS as the quickest way for small to medium sized startups to integrate with Flock.

MySpace has also been finally integrated into Flock, allowing users to see their MySpace contacts in a sidebar where they can easily message them and share the content they find while surfing the web. Perhaps most usefully, Flock users can now comment on friends’ profiles using videos and photos without needing to know any HTML code. The developers at Flock have been working closely with MySpace to get all of this set up, and they’ve leveraged the Data Availability platform to do so.

Lastly, and most importantly, Flock’s code base has been upgraded to match that of Firefox 3. While most of the improvements are under the hood and include things such as better memory management, you’ll notice certain distinguishing Firefox 3 features such as the Awesome Bar. Burkhart says that the upgrade to Firefox 3 code was non-trivial and took about 3 months of focused attention.

What’s not in this release? Instant messaging is notably absent, although Burkhart says it’s definitely in the works and will support the most commonly used IM protocols. No word yet on when it will launch but it sounds like Flock’s most important feature at this time, especially now that MySpace support has been released.

Flock has been downloaded over six million times since the company’s founding 3 years ago and the first version’s launch last Fall. The browser is marketed primarily toward those in the 18-34 year old demographic that use social websites heavily.

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