RockMelt's iPad Web Browser Puts Social Media Front and Center

Image credit: RockMelt

In addition to the standard Safari Web browser that comes on the iPad, there are a few others in the App Store. Some of them make browsing faster and add a few features you don't get with Apple's, but by and large they look like, well, Web browsers.

RockMelt's new browser for the iPad, which is being released today, will stand out since it looks nothing like a typical Web browser.

"Everything has been fairly uninspired equivalents of the desktop browser. There's a URL bar and an open window for the page to load," Tim Howes, the co-founder and CTO of RockMelt, told ABC News in an interview. "We wanted to build a whole new visual style of the interface."

And that is what the start-up did. Similar to RockMelt's desktop Web browser, it is built around social media. Log in to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and it brings in the articles or sites your friends are sharing in different boxes. From that grid, you can tap to read an article or visit a site. And there's an added social layer on top of that. You can tap one of RockMelt's feedback buttons or "emoticodes" - such as "Like," "LOL," "Want," "WTF," or "AWW." Pinch the article to shrink it and you'll be back on your home-screen grid.

Of course, you can still search the Web and type in regular Web addresses by tapping on the buttons in the upper left hand corner. You can also save articles you might want to read later. In those respects it is a full-on browser and not just a news app aggregator, like FlipBoard or News360.

Howes and the CEO of the company, Eric Vishria, previewed the app for me a few weeks ago and I was impressed with the clean layout, the integrated social functionality, and the speed of the experience. Beyond all that, I was impressed with just how different it looks than other browsers out there.

The new RockMelt app will be available for free starting today for the iPad. According to the duo the company is working on bringing versions to the iPhone and other devices, so ultimately your browsing experience can be synced everywhere.