Republics is a convenient central hub that makes it easy for you to access your most used Internet activities. From Republics you can access your favorite web apps, search engines, RSS feeds and embedded media; this is why it’s great as your browser start page. One downside though is the color scheme of the site is dark, it’s mostly dark gray and black. This will definitely not appeal to everyone, and from what I can see, there is currently no way to change this.
The icons (pictured on the right) are pretty important since this is how you will navigate the site. Home, Settings, Logout, Search and Edit are pretty self explanatory. RSS Reader displays the fees that you can choose for your personalized newspaper. Library is where all of your embedded media is stored such as videos and flash games. Marketplace is where you’ll need to go to find RSS feeds, web apps, and search engines to add to your newspaper and library. The Markplace is also where you can edit your web apps, RSS feeds and search engines as well as submit feedback or problems.
The first thing you’ll probably want to do is add some RSS feeds. There’s not really a a huge selection to choose from at the moment in the Marketplace, but that’s not really an issue since you can add your own. In the Markeplace, it will ask you to “select your favorite news sources” and then select a subcategory from there. If you want to add your own RSS feeds, you can do this by clicking on the green PLUS icon (from the Marketplace) and then enter the URL for the feed and title. This is a nice feature to have but the black text on the dark gray background is kind of difficult to read.
What I like most, of course, is the ability to add your most used social media sites (which they call web apps). Most of the larger, well-known sites are supported like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and various Google apps. It’s best to go through and add all your web apps first.
After you add them, you’ll need to click on Home in order to see the icons, that will magically appear in your sidebar. Then you simply click on each icon to open up the app in the main area of the site (in an iframe). They do warn you that there are a few sites that will pop-out of the iframe because it’s not allowed. There doesn’t seem to be an option to add your own web apps, but their selection is large enough to suffice for now.
You can also add search engines that will be displayed on Home and can be selected via a drop-down menu. Their selection of search engines is pretty impressive, ranging from the top used search engines to the top used social sites to the top viewed news sites. As you’ll see below, I’ve only added four and I can easily switch between them.
Lastly there’s the Libray where you can view embedded media – videos and flash games. Once again you’ll have to do this from the marketplace. You’ll need to enter a code for your video or game, enter the website name and then a name for the item. You can also edit your videos and games titles in the Library if needed. I think the ability to bookmark your favorite videos and games is pretty neat and will definitely come in handy.
Though I really love the concept and convenience of the site, I am not very fond of the design; I think the UI needs improvement and definitely a way to customize the colors. I like the way it’s setup but the functionality of the Marketplace needs work. That being said, it doesn’t change the fact that I really love Republics and will definitely use it on a regular basis. How about you?