Flock is Back in the Browser Game

Flock has released Flock 2.0 beta, a new version of Flock based on the Gecko 1.9 (Firefox 3) rendering engine. The new version of Flock delivers improved performance, security enhancements and user interface improvements.

Improve performance is the obvious difference with the new rendering engine. Flock claims that the new setup will run “complex web applications” such as Gmail and Zoho Office twice as fast.

I’ve long been a Flock fan for the way the Flock team managed to tweak the Gecko engine for improved use of resources. I used Flock for over a year before switching to back to Firefox when 3 was first released as FF3 appeared to have overcome many of the memory issues of FF2, and it was also significantly quicker than Flock 1. The question then becomes: is Flock 2 an improvement memory wise (and therefore more stable) than FF 3?

I’ve only just downloaded 2.0 now (and I’m typing this post in Flock) but it feels quicker from the moment it loaded. Memory use is hard to measure, but with the same tabs open (and Firefox stripped back to a clean install, no plugins) Flock would appear to be using around half the memory of Firefox 3 on non-video content (1.9% to 4.3%) on a MacPro with 4GB of RAM. The addition of an identical YouTube video saw Flock on around 46% vs Firefox 54%. When the video was stopped but was still open on the screen the split went 4.6% vs 10%. Very much anecdotal, but enough that I’m switching back to Flock for the time being to see how it runs.

There’s also the social features which are handy and usually the main selling point of using Flock. Despite being a Flock user in the past I never used them that much, but they are handy to have there.

The downside: Flock hasn’t touched the visuals so it still feels rather cluttered and the washed out theme is still in place. There might be a way of changing this…I need to find out.

If you’ve considered Flock before but have held back because Firefox 3 offered a superior and more shiny offering, now is a great time to give Flock a go. You can download Flock 2.0 beta here.

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