Snowl is Mozilla's experimental attempt at creating a unified messaging client for Firefox. When we first reviewed Mozilla's Snowl, it looked like a promising project, but ultimately didn't live up to its promise. The new version, which was released yesterday, is vastly superior to the first, but still has a lot of usability issues. It does, however, also clearly show that the project still holds a lot of promise.
A Prettier River of News
One major advantage of this new version is the improved 'River of News,' which is now beautifully presented. Also, you can now send Twitter messages right from the Snowl toolbar, which is nice, but we would still like to see the promised integration with other messaging services like Facebook, AIM, or Google Talk. It would also be nice if Snowl integrated Twitter replies right from the interface, but as of now, that isn't possible.
While these new features are nice, Snowl is also still very rough around its edges. It is relatively hard to actually subscribe to a feed in Snowl, for example. Also, you can't set how often your RSS feeds and Twitter subscriptions are refreshed.
Sources and Authors
One 'feature' we didn't like in the first version of Snowl has thankfully been fixed: When you display your subscriptions, Snowl's last version insisted on showing every single one of your Twitter contacts as a separate entity, right there with your regular RSS subscriptions. Now, you can go from this 'flat' model to a more traditional hierarchical model that separates sources like RSS feeds and your Twitter stream), from authors.
The Philosophy Behind Snowl
While we have been critical of the implementation, we do like the philosophy behind Snowl and think that it is a worthwhile experiment. We do like the idea of conversations and people being treated as first-class objects, for example, though the current implementation of this still feels a bit clumsy.