Been waiting for a ‘material design’ new tab page for Chrome?
Bookmarking (and then some) service Raindrop.io has launched a brand new Chrome New Tab Page extension that is dripping in Google’s unified design language, introduced with Android 5.0 last year.
The extension is free to install and looks, at first blush, fantastic. Before we show off more of what it offers it’s best we bring you up to speed on who the add-on is made by.
Who or What Is Raindrop.io?
‘Raindrop lets you arrange your bookmarks thematically in to collections’
Raindrop.io is a bookmarking syncing service with a few nifty extras. It has both free and paid plans. Some features are only available to paid users.
Aside from being just somewhere you stash URLs to articles, videos and other web content you like, and being able to access them from elsewhere at a later date, Raindrop lets you arrange your bookmarks thematically in to ‘collections’.
Collections are based on content type, e.g. video, photo, article, et cetera, can be shared publicly and be ‘nested’ within each other.
Also mixed in is a ‘Read it later’ feature, similar to Pocket and Readability, and bookmarks can be tagged, searched and filtered like in Google Chrome’s new bookmarking experience.
RSS support, an Android app, Mac desktop client and various cross-browser extensions are also available to make adding and browsing content stored on the service easy.
RainDrop.io New Tab Page
Launched May 2015, the Raindrop.io new tab page extension for Chrome places many of the service’s features in easy reach, just a tab away.
The result is visually impressive. It looks like something designed at the desks of the Google design team rather than a third-party, cloud-centric bookmark syncing service you (probably) haven’t heard of before.
Installing the add-on will change the new tab page in Chrome. It replaces the “standard” top sites, search bar and searing white background you’re used to with a different layout, a customisable grid of bookmark icons and a stylish (changeable) background image.
Using the new tab page without a Raindrop account gives you the following features:
- Customisable “speed dial”
- Selection of background images
- Language options
Signing up for and logging in with a Raindrop.io account unlocks more features:
- Search box (for searching tags, collections NOT the web)
- “Collections” view (including in-collection browsing)
- Quick links to import/export bookmarks
- Omnibar icon for quickly bookmarking content
Is It Worth Installing?
‘Using this new tab page without a Raindrop account is pointless’
As new tab pages go it’s certainly one of the more innovative, if a little heavy on resource usage (around ~158MB). Like all Chrome extensions it will continue to run in the background even when it isn’t “open”.
For existing (and new) users of the Raindrop the add-on is a well thought out, engaging and hugely useful browser bolt on.
You get quick access to not just creating bookmarks and collections from wherever you are in Chrome, but also having the ones you create elsewhere ‘synced’ to and available in every new tab you open.
But using this new tab page without a Raindrop account is a little less compelling. Almost pointless, in fact.
The entire add-on has been built around the Raindrop experience. It’s chief purpose is to make managing, searching and accessing an expansive set of bookmarks stored on their cloud service easier.
It looks nice, no doubt about that, but as a replacement for the standard Chrome New Tab Page it’s not nearly as useful.
The lack of search box, constant bumps in to “sign up” prompts and performance hit (uses around ~150MB at all times, which goes up when a new tab is open, is sending data to and from network frequently) all put ticks in the cons column.
The finessed approach to top sites is superior to Google’s own both in design and interaction. The heavy use of drop shadows, spacious layout and ‘floating action button’ may attract the Google fanboys.
But unless you’re signed in to the service (which this article isn’t reviewing) using it as ‘replacement’ start page would be a case of preferring style over substance or, indeed, performance.
Install Raindrop for Chrome
Want it? The Raindrop io new tab page extension is available to install from the Chrome Web Store. It requires a Raindrop io account to work fully and requests permission to ‘read and change all your data on all sites you visit’.
|Summary: Users of the service will love the quick access to stashed bookmarks and collections. For everyone else the limited features, like no search box, will niggle.||