I’ve occasionally used Flock, the Web browser you’ve probably never heard of, but hadn’t had a compelling reason to do so regularly. Today at TechCrunch40, Flock CEO Shawn Hardin demonstrated Flock’s new browser that finally came out of its beta test period. The most interesting thing to me is the sidebar down the left where you can see all your friends from Facebook and Flickr. The key features according to Flock:
* People – Flock automatically integrates the user’s friends from services such as Facebook and Flickr, and pulls them into the browser so they can be accessed at any time. The user can see when their friends have updated their profiles and media, access their shared media, share web content with them, and communicate with them effortlessly across services.
* Media – Flock’s Media MiniBar presents a scrollable filmstrip view of photo and video streams from YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, Piczo, Truveo and other services that provide a feed of media content. Users can drag and drop items from the media bar onto friends, blogs or email for immediate and effortless sharing.
* Share and Discover – Flock also helps people to discover photos, videos, feeds and people by detecting them on supported services where they can be activated or shared in some way. When any of these items are available, an icon in the browser lights up to show that Flock has sensed them, allowing the user to collect, favorite or share items of interest.
The reason I find this interesting is the social networking overload I’ve run into lately. Flock essentially provides a layer on top of potentially many social networks so you don’t have to go to each of them individually to find out what your friends are doing. That alone could be very valuable in a time when there’s literally a new social network or two launching every day. It could even potentially change the game in social networking, which seems to depend on the old gambit of persuading people to flock, as it were, in a single walled garden.