Top 10 specialty Web browsers you may have missed

These oddly useful alternative browsers offer such advantages as 3-D searching, social networking, easy scriptability, and powerful page manipulation

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Specialty Web browsers: Browse socially with Flock

Somewhere in a different universe created when Web history took a different turn, Facebook doesn't exist and Flock is the dominant browser that unites people with their friends, letting them share links and messages. The folks who built Flock recognized the importance of social browsing long ago and created a tool to help get this done.

For some reason, people joined Facebook instead of adopting a new browser. Today some estimates -- perhaps bogus -- suggest that 20 percent of Web traffic is devoted to Facebook updates. Some email services say that the real mail travels via Facebook, while the email spool files are mostly filled with spam and updates from Facebook about messages.

Flock adapted nicely to this change by adopting access to Facebook's API. While you're browsing the Web, Flock is pulling in the status updates from Facebook, Twitter, and other RSS feeds, then scrolling this information alongside the main page. You can point your browser anywhere you want to go and never leave Facebook or Twitter behind.

Flock is completely integrated with these services, an approach that makes more sense than offering many of the same services. Sure, you can always go to, but that requires switching from site to site whenever you see something worth sharing. Many of these features work better wrapped around the browser than set apart as a website, and Flock accomplishes that.

The Flock browser also offers a few enhancements that Facebook should have delivered long ago, such as classifying some people as better friends than others. Their news will pop up immediately in Flock's sidebar, while Aunt Judy's cat pictures can wait until later.

The core of the Flock browser is now Google Chrome, whereas Flock was originally built around Firefox. While it may be hard for some users to leave the Firefox ecosystem and its huge collection of add-ons, there are now few reasons not to use Flock instead of Chrome. You get all of Chrome's core strengths and available extensions, along with Flock's extra powers.

Flock shows regular Web pages in the main window and updates from Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds in the sidebar.
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