Chromium-based social browser RockMelt drew a lot of attention from tech circles today. But if you want to get social with Chrome without marrying yourself to Facebook, you can do so without switching to an entirely different fork of the popular browser.
RockMelt integrates and embeds your social circle (at least the ones on Facebook and Twitter) deep within your native browsing experience. It features integrated Facebook chat, direct web page sharing to Facebook and Twitter, and so on, RockMelt takes the best of Chrome and adds social media.
If you like the idea but don't want to swap Chrome for a dedicated social browser, here are a few easier and more user-friendly ways to include your social graph into your day-to-day browsing.
Ed. note: We've seen "social browsers" like RockMelt before, namely in the form of Flock, a social browser originally based on Firefox that now, like RockMelt, uses Chromium as its starting point. These social browsers are great in theory — at least for people who consider Facebook or Twitter as full-service web platforms (which is to say, people who use Facebook like it's the AOL we remember from the '90s) — but they've also always presented a couple of problems in adoption: Historically, most people willing to switch their default web browser are early adopters, and — again, historically — most early adopters aren't the same people who want Facebook pervading their web browsing.
In fact, right now RockMelt requires you to log into Facebook before it'll even load one web page. (This may change in time.) I can't think of one self-respecting geek who'd switch to a browser with that kind of requirement. That may not be true of the rest of the world. Either way, if you still want a little social in your Chrome without switching browsers, here are a few options:
Integrate Your Social Networks with Yoono
Yoono is the social aggregate dream for anyone looking for quick wigitised updates from their social networks. Yoono supports Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Flickr, LinkedIn, AIM, GChat and pretty much any other social site you can think of. Similar to Seezmic's UI, Yoono opens in an available tab and will list out columns based on your preferred social data. Otherwise Yoono can open in a separate sidebar tab alongside your browsing.
Add Facebook and Facebook Chat to Chrome
Looking for something simpler and Facebook focused? Facebook for Google Chrome does a great job distilling core Facebook elements down into a simple, viewable widget. Gain easy access to your News Feed, Wall, Notifications and Messages. Badge notifications will keep you notified and simply clicking the extension will let you quickly respond without breaking away from what you're currently on task with. Unfortunately Facebook Chat is not included.
However there is a separate Facebook Chat extension for Google Chrome. See who's currently available and chat with them without ever leaving your current tab.
Share Web Pages with Google Share
One interesting thing RockMelt does well is its drag-and-drop capability to share photos or links from sites with your Facebook friends. Simply dragging an image to one of your "Favorites" in your sidebar will immediately populate a wall post with the link and image.
While there are no Chrome extensions which let you share information with a particular person through Facebook, Google's Share widget does a great job letting you share links globally with your Facebook, Twitter or other social networks in a couple clicks.
Share Images and Text with Drag2Up
An interesting Chrome extension and feature that currently isn't available to RockMelt is Drag2Up. Using this extension you can drag and drop supported text or image files from your desktop to your browser. It's a quick and easy way to share files with your friends and family without using often slow upload links and processes.
"I Melt With You"
While RockMelt approaches social media in a new and unique way, for most Lifehacker readers it's going to feel like a glorified Facebook portal that's both distracting and cluttered. Keeping in mind RockMelt is still currently in beta, and releases will inevitably add more in-depth features and controls, it's worth keeping in mind that you can still get most of the same functionality using your current browser. While we've featured here in this variation, there are plenty of Firefox and Safari extensions that follow suit.