Founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes in 2009, Rockmelt set out to provide a “fundamentally better web experience” by building a browser around how people use and interact with the web today, with a social media focus at its core.
Its ambition has inspired a number of backers to get involved, including venture capital firm Andreeson Horowitz, helping the California-based start-up to raise $40 million to date.
Now it’s moving from desktop to mobile with the launch of a free iPad version that maintains its social media focus, creating a mobile web browsing experience which is more touch than type and a breeze to use.
Imagine a coming together of Flipboard and Pinterest, creating a browser populated with content from your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Scroll down the image-heavy front page until something catches your eye, tap on the item and away you go. Read it without formatting or tap the specs at the top and view the content in its original form on its webpage.
Once you’re done, perform a two-finger pinch to lose it and return to your main page or swipe to the right to save it for later.
You don’t have to go for content from your own social media feeds – tap the browse button at the top of the screen and choose from a long list of other categories, including business, cute, geek, news, science and shopping.
Being a browser with social media at its heart, there are sharing options aplenty. Buttons for Facebook, Twitter and email are all within easy reach, but Rockmelt goes one step further, offering so-called emoticodes such as like, lol, want, wtf?, aww, and hmm for a one-tap response that makes a statement without having to pull up a keyboard.
Yes, it is a browser, so at the top there’s a window where you can tap in an web address if you really must, or a word or phrase to initiate a search on Google. Chances are, however, you’ll be too busy tapping away on the endless streaming content to think about heading elsewhere.
According to a blog post announcing the launch of the app, it took a team of developers eight months to create Rockmelt for iPad, with its main aim to make it fast, fun to use and easy to share content. “It is an entirely new way to explore the web, built for you and your iPad from the ground up,” it says in the post.
It’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re a frequent user of, say, Flipboard, you’ll get what it’s about pretty quick. If you’re coming straight from Safari, it might take a little longer to get your head around. For many, however, it may soon become the iPad browser of choice. You can find out more about it here.