Netscape has released a new version of its web browser, which sees the software include a number of social features which tie directly into the company's recently redesigned news portal. Dubbed 'Navigator' (a return to its roots name-wise), the browser is, under the hood, a re-branded version of Firefox, but with some significant bolted on functionality for seamless integration with Netscape.com.
First up, users can submit links and vote for stories on Netscape's Digg-like social news site, right from within the browser. When browsing the web, 'Navigator' will check with Netscape.com to see if the page you're on has already been submitted. If it has, you'll be offered the vote button, as well as being able to access any comments. Alternatively, you can choose to submit the story yourself, which involves highlighting any text on the page that might make a good summary, and clicking 'share'. Another neat feature is the ability to track your friends' activity on Netscape.com, such as what stories they've submitted, voted or commented on.
Other new functionality includes a news sidebar -- again pulling in content from Netscape.com -- as well as a news ticker for 'breaking news'. A nice feature is the ability to temporarily dump links into a holding place in the side bar which don't merit actually bookmarking. This is something which I would use, instead of spawning multiple (and memory hogging) tabs as I currently do.
Another bonus is that because 'Navigator' is based on Firefox 2 it's compatible with Firefox add-ons, so that you can really enhance the browser's social features beyond those services offered by Netscape.
Overall, the new Navigator, along with Mozilla's social experiments, point to an era of social web features being built into the browser. I've recently re-converted to Flock, which was the first to embrace this direction, but which is quickly falling behind these more recent efforts.