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Rockmelt for iPad Lets Pictures Do the Browsing

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 12, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Rockmelt brought social browsing to the desktop in 2010 with an innovative Web browser, and now it hopes to do the same for the iPad with a new browser introduced on Thursday.

Rockmelt browser
The Rockmelt browser is designed for visual, social browsing.

Rockmelt for iPad Lets Pictures Do the Browsing

Unlike traditional browsers, Rockmelt for iPad presents a user with two columns of floating tiles containing information that the user may be interested in based on past browsing. The browser also makes smarter choices about what you want to see the more you use it.

Built from the ground up for the iPad and iOS 6, the visually oriented browser completely rethinks how people interact with the Web, said Rockmelt cofounder and CEO Eric Vishria. "We realized that the best thing to do was to have the content that you're likely to go to anyway ready and waiting for you," Vishria told TechNewsWorld.

Ditching The DOS Prompt

He compared the current state of Web browsers to the desktop before the introduction of graphic user interfaces.

"The browser paradigm of this empty window with this URL bar -- which is like the C prompt in DOS -- is stuck in that paradigm and what we're trying to do is bring it to this new world with a visual interface that you can navigate much easier and is much more accessible to people."

Just as improvements in computer hardware made it possible to introduce graphical user interfaces on the desktop, similar improvements have paved the way for offerings like Rockmelt for iPad.

"We can do it now," Vishria said. "There's enough bandwidth, the content delivery networks are good enough, the graphics processors are good enough, the core processes are good enough and the screen resolutions are good enough."

Beyond The Tablet

The fastest-growing consumer services on the Net -- Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Fab -- all have visual interfaces. "That isn't a coincidence," Vishria maintained.

"You're not only going to see more visual interfaces from us, but you're going to see them from everybody," he continued. "This is a major shift in how people use computing."

While Rockmelt for iPad is optimized for a tablet computer, Vishria believes the product's reach can be expanded. "The concept and design is something that we're actively working on for phones and for the desktop as well," he said.

"This whole idea of a content-first browser that has deep social hooks and that pushes content to you rather than have you hunt and peck to find good stuff online has merit on all platforms and is something we want to bring to all platforms," he added.

Getting Social Out Front

Rockmelt isn't alone in its sentiments about the current crop of Web browsers on the market. "A lot of the browser makers who started in the PC world have tried to shoehorn their old approach into a mobile approach instead of starting from the ground up," Michael Morgan, a mobile devices analyst with ABI Research told TechNewsWorld.

"Rockmelt has come up with a ground up approach that looks a little like Pinterest, with some Facebook mixed in, that's easy to use and reflects the idea that in the future we will not be using the left click button as much as we used to," he observed.

"Rockmelt is designed for the way the mobile Internet will look like in the future," Morgan added, "as opposed to the way it looks in a Web browser now -- a bunch of information everywhere, maybe some headlines, some ads -- not very clean or conducive to the eye."

The visual browser is trying to do lot of things for the user, said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. "They're trying to make social more a part of your daily experience."

"With social media, so many things go by when you're not looking so what Rockmelt attempts to do is make sure those things happen in front of you so you don't miss something that's important to you," he told TechNewsWorld.

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.

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