No longer 'just' a browser, Rockmelt has released its app for Android
Rockmelt is bringing their critically acclaimed "everything" aggregation service and social network to Android, and they're doing so with style. If you're not familiar with Rockmelt, they started life as a web browser on the desktop, complete with social tools and ways to subscribe and share what the web has to offer, and now their new content discovery and delivery system has made it's way into Google Play.
We sat down and had a little chat with Tim Howes, Rockmelt's CTO and Co-founder, and Sharon Chang, Head of Marketing for the company and and discussed both the history of the Rockmelt brand as well as the present iteration. They're excited about what they're doing, and after having a go with the Android version of Rockmelt for a while, I think they have good reason to be.
Like many developers, Rockmelt got caught up in the mobile revolution whether they wanted to be or not. Growth on the desktop, especially through the web browser, has made a drastic shift in the past few years towards more portable devices. Rather than buck the trend and try to lure people back to the traditional way of content consumption, they rolled with the punches and started to focus on mobile, releasing an application for the iPad to catch the wave. An iPhone app soon followed, and the question of the hour quickly became "what about Android?"
Tim and Sharon both told us they didn't want to just port another iPhone app to Android. There were special challenges, as well as unique advantages to contend with, and they wanted to do the platform justice. Android devices have "big beautiful screens" and that means navigation through the app needed to be different, as did the quality of the content delivered. The unique UI is a result, and Rockmelts backend will send content tailored for your device's screen size to best take advantage of Android's high-resolution high-ppi screens.
It's a beautiful design, and one that doesn't feel out of place on an Android device. The sidebar gives things a very Android look and feel, while the unique on-screen controls make the app easy to navigate with one hand on devices like the Galaxy Note 2. Landscape view is fully supported, as market studies show Android users are more likely to use their devices this way than folks on other platforms. To complete the picture, the app is very fluid and smooth-running. It's definitely a testament to hours and hours of development and great ideas. They have done their homework, and their Android app shows it.
You use the app like you would Flipboard or Google Currents. It's a typical endless list of Internet content, from categories that you define during setup. There are a few major differences here that set Rockmelt apart though. Besides the content delivery, there's also a social aspect, When you join Rockmelt, you can interact with others about the content you're finding and seeing, with ratings, comments and mood icons. You can choose to follow other users to see what they are liking, wanting, laughing at, or even hating and they can follow you as well. Of course, Android sharing intents are fully supported and you can share the content you find with just about anyone.
What really sets Rockmelt apart from other similar services and apps is the ease in which you can add your own content. Come across something that isn't in any of the pre-existing feeds? Add the website to Rockmelt and share it with people. This way, Rockmelt will soon have your own unique stamp of approval, with content that interests you delivered in a beautiful and easy to use way.
I'll be keeping Rockmelt around as a great way to see what's going on around the Internet, and really suggest you give it a try. It's a new way to do what we're used to from apps that came before it, and the design and UI choices deserve some attention.