Flock, the Web browser of choice for social media nuts, has scrapped its Gecko foundations and based itself on Google’s open source engine Chromium.

While previous versions of Flock were feature-laden, many complained that the web experience it offered was slow, confusing, and bloated. The newly released Flock 3.0 beta addresses these complaints by stripping down the functionality and using the speedier Google core.

Rather than offering a multitude of ties with every social network under the sun, Flock 3.0 concentrates on the main services, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr; as a result the user interface is less overwhelming than previous versions.

Clayton Stark, posting on the company blog, describes their motivation behind the more minimal interface,

When we combined the user feedback about ‘less is more’ with the vision of being able to extract the parts of the stream most likely to suit my fancy at any given time, we came up with new Flock. Now I channel surf the Web. I made the channels that reflect my own categorization of the people and content I follow, and I flip between them with a click as I carry on with my day. And our new social search capability makes it easy to find information from my social stream. It’s something only Flock can do.

Flock 3.0 is the first third-party browser to be based on Google’s open source Chromium engine and enjoys the benefits of faster page-rendering, JavaScript, and compatibility with Chome’s ever-expanding selection of extensions.

Upon launching Flock for the first time, you’ll be asked to login to your various social networks and also to sign up for a Flock User Account, where your profile, favourites, and various preferences are saved to your personal space.

The side-bar is the nexus of your social media activity, displaying Twitter updates, Facebook statuses, and any other information your various networks see fit to provide the browser with. Compared to previous versions of Flock, the beta feels much more responsive and lightweight; I was always a fan of the functionality, but was turned off by the sluggishness of previous incarnations. I’m happy to say that Flock is currently my main browser.

Flock 3.0 beta is currently only available for Windows, but you can sign up to their mailing list to be notified of the upcoming Mac release.

Dan Wood