RockMelt April 1 launched its second beta version, adding better Facebook Chat, a new and improved Twitter application and support for Google's speedier Chromium 10 open source browser technology.
RockMelt is a social Web browser launched last November to lofty hype, thanks to its backing by Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen. RockMelt frames the browsing experience with people's contacts from Facebook, tweet streams from Twitter and other Web content to keep users from having to switch back and forth between those applications.
Facebook contacts appear along the left edge of the browser window -- in the "Friend Edge" after users log into RockMelt via their Facebook e-mail and password. The right side of RockMelt, the so-called "App Edge," includes buttons for accessing the Facebook News Feed, Facebook Profile, Twitter tweet stream and timeline.
In testing, eWEEK found the RockMelt browsing experience enjoyable, if slower than its more stripped down rivals, such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Google Chrome.
RockMelt's speed issues are somewhat alleviated in beta 2, as the browser has upgraded to support the faster Chromium 10 technology (from Chromium 9).
For its integrated Facebook Chat app, RockMelt has added a chat bar at the bottom of the browser window to help users track multiple conversations at once. This is a big deal because users are conducting three Facebook chat sessions via RockMelt per day.
RockMelt has also used the Twitter API to tweak its Twitter App, providing full capabilities to search Twitter, view @replies, lists and direct messages. This is important at a time when 50 percent of RockMelt users have added at least one Twitter account.
RockMelt has one super, new feature; the ability to access Web pages later by clicking on the clock icon within Web pages views in the App Edge. Tagged articles create a running list in the "View Later" app on RockMelt's App Edge.
For any new browser, the benchmark for success is how many users it has acquired. RockMelt has gained around 300,000 users since last November, but it's the user engagement metrics that validate RockMelt's raison d'etre.
RockMelt users are spending on average over six hours per day in the browser and are sharing content every two to three days. That includes Web pages they've shared via Facebook within RockMelt.
The App Edge is proving particularly popular, too. Some 65 percent of users have added multiple Apps to their App Edge. Moreover, users are engaging with the apps in their App Edge more than 20 times per day.
These are the sort of user engagement stats that justify a browser app like RockMelt, which is geared to prevent people from jumping from one application to the next. See RockMelt's beta 2 changes in screenshots here.