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Join the Flock in new browser war

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Flock, the web browser that helps users organise their online leves, will release its latest update next week. Flock 1.1 beta will be available as a free software download for Mac, PC and Linux. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tells you what it will do for you and where to get it …

Flock is not just a pretty browser. Sure, it is the easiest on the eye of all the better-known browsers, making even Firefox look dowdy. But it goes beyond mere browsing into the very personal arena of getting your online life organised.

Pic: A sneak preview of Flock 1.1 on Evan Hamilton’s laptop. Spot the dashboard at the bottom of the screen.

That sounds like a tall order, but it’s also the reason for the existence of Flock 1.0. For anyone who spends more time than is healthy on sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube – yes, we know who you are – the experience of upgrading from any other browser to Flock is like coming home.

It knows who you are, what you do and what you like – but not in a creepy, cookie-stalker kind of way. Rather, it organises the sites you visit and the social (networking and media) things you do online into logical groupings and activity centres. Import your settings from your old browser, and it feels like you always have been on Flock.

And now, Flock 1.1 beta is about to be released, available as a free software download for Mac, PC and Linux next week at http://www.Flock.com. It includes built-in support for Yahoo Mail and Gmail, Picasa photos and real-time activity feeds from social networking sites.

“E-mail is the single most frequently used communication application on the web, and is often overlooked as social activity,”” said Shawn Hardin, CEO of Flock, announcing the new version at last week’s Macworld Conference and Expo. “”With Flock 1.1, we’ve integrated e-mail, Picasa photo sharing and Friend Activity to extend our focus of putting users at the centre of their entire social experience on the web.””

It may not challenge Internet Explorer or even Firefox in the browser wars, but this is a new kind of browser war: it is part of the user’s battle for control of online lives gone crazy. Expect the other browsers to steal an idea or two from Flock in their next versions.

Flock “”Community Ambassador”” Evan Hamilton, writing in his blog on the Flock web site, offers the following sneak preview of “”the cool stuff you’ll see in 1.1″”:

Webmail

“”Flock lets you know when you have mail waiting, and makes it crazy easy to share the things you find on the web (URLs, Photos, Videos, etc) from within the browser through your webmail account.

“”My World has a new column, and it’s called Friend Activity. This new column shows you updates from your friends across all People services, so you can see what they’ve been up to, all within the comfort of My World. Speaking of comfort: you can now rename the MyWorld page to be called whatever the heck you want. After all, it’s your page. We’ve also add the ability for you to add/delete columns in MyWorld and to move them around. Give your MyWorld some personality!

Picasa integration

“”We heard you. I told you we would! You clamored and pleaded for Picasa integration more than any other service, so we’ve done it. Flock 1.1 brings Picasa to the Media Bar and Photo Uploader. Enjoy!””

And if you can’t wait, Flock 1.0 is still available for free download at http://www.flock.com. As Evan says, get ready to flock ‘n roll…

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