As Web 3.0 is becoming reality, browsers are gaining a great importance: browsers are our first interface, the one we use every single day to explore the Web.
2008 has been a great year for the so-called Browser War: back in September, when Google launched Chrome, its official browser, there was a very interesting debate wether Firefox was still "the best alternative browser" (Internet Explorer is the most used browser, until now) which saw the community split in three: Firefox, Chrome and Safari, our native Mac browser.
Despite these three big names, there are dozens of less known apps, surely worth a try, which I'd like to talk about .
So, here's MacStories Mac Browsers Roundup, May 2009 Edition.
You can download Safari here.
Safari is Mac's default browser, created by Apple. Current stable version (4.0.3) shows a great speed and a very simple but yet functional interface, really Mac-style. We can find tabs directly below the address bar in a Firefox-style view, although Safari is more sleek and elegant. There are some plugins available as well.
- elegant and sleek interface;
- Mac default browser;
You can download Omniweb here.
Here's a well known alternative to Safari, Omniweb. Omniweb was a shareware application until a few months ago, but since its last update it has become free.
One of the most interesting features is the Tabs Drawer: instead of having dozens of horizontal tabs, you can put them in a vertical drawer and display them through a beatiful thumbnail view. Besides, you can save your browsing session as Workspaces and quickly switch between them by opening a pop-up window that shows your saved workspaces and enables you to create as many as you want.
Very useful, but still too far from what I wrote about in my previuos article about a Workspaces feature in Firefox.next.
Anyway, you should give Omniweb a try, it's a very good browser.
- tabs drawer;
- integrated rss reader;
- single site prefernces;
You can download Cruz here.
Another less known Mac browser, with a few features worth a mention. Cruz.app allows you to split your browser window into 3 sub-windows, giving you the option to choose Mobile Safari display mode for side windows.
While Cruz developer describes his creation as a "social tool", a browser that help keep tracking of twitter updates and stuff like this, I think Mobile Safari compatibility mode is really interesting for websites testing purposes, especially if you want to check your iPhone optimized site and you don't actually own an iPhone.
- side-by-side windows;
- Mobile Safari mode;
- themable interface.
You can download iCab here.
Nothing to mention.
- Shiira / Demeter
Shiira is a very popular browser: actually, it was very popular years ago, then the developer dropped the project but last January he began to work on it again.
Shiira has always been a good alternative to Safari, thanks to its stability and its features. As you can see, you can either decide to display your open tabs as thumbnails in the "pagedock" ot through a classic tab bar view. Shiira features a rss reader as well, a cool bookmarking system and..an amazing icon.
Demeter should be "the future of Shiira, dedicated to social networking" but it seems to be nothing more than Shiira.
- interesting bookmarks handling;
-amazing system icon;
You can download Sunrise here.
Another less known browser, Sunrise doesn't provide any interesting features except for a search box / address bar (really, what a huge innovation) and some "visual bookmarks" which, in my opinion, would be horrible even on Windows 2000.
- Visual Bookmarks
You can download Stainless here.
According to developers' blog Stainless was born as a proof of concept but they plan to release a 1.0 stable version soon.
Stainless has got a lot of interesting features: the most important is "Single session tabs", a Google Chrome-like system which allows you to run your open tabs as indipendent processes.Multisession, basically.
Moreover, you can log in the same site with different accounts, a great idea which really comes in handy when, for example, you have to work on ebay with different stores (just as in my case) and you don't want to use in tandem Firefox and Safari.
- Webkit powered;
- "Google Chrome for Mac";
- single session tabs;
- multiple logins;
- Google Gears support;
- vertical bookmarks toolbar.
You can download Flare here.
Flare was an interesting Webkit browsers created by Steven Troughton Smith,a famous iPhone developer. The project is currently dead, as it was only an experiment to test Xcode capabilities.
Anyway, Flare has got a very intersting feature which is Tab Expose: you can get a quick glance of your open tabs by simply pressing Tab Expose menu (or assigning a keyboard shortcut to it) and enjoy a great Mac OS X-like Expose view.
You may say that Shiira does the same, but Flare just looks better.
- Tab Expose;
- Tab preview .
You can download Firefox here.
What can we say about Mozilla Firefox? It is a very versatile tool, my favorite by far, which you can customize how much you like according to your needs. There are thousands of plugins for Firefox, most of them real applications that enhance Firefox capabilities with features that Mozilla never thought of in 10 years.
Think about Tree Style Tabs, Feedly, Juice or Firebug. There's an extension for everyone, from web designers to photographers, from social media workers to geeks. Mozilla's Gecko engine is a little bit slower than Webkit, but there's no doubt that plugins fill this gap.
- huge community;
- highly customizable;
- great support from Mozilla.
You can download Flock here.
Flock was announced as the "ultimate social browser". Based on Gecko engine, Flock allows to update your status on Twiter, Myspaces or Facebook, write posts for your blog, find photos on Flickr and many other social things. Basically, a social-geek dream come true. The problem is that Flock is just..wrong. I mean, information is overloaded: there are too windows, too menus, too..everything.
The interface is not clear nor user-friendly, and the overall impression is that Flock was created for Windows and then converted to Mac.
I can't believe that someone would think of creating an interface such as Flock's one on Mac.
You can download Camino here.
Another Gecko based browser, Camino was announced as a better version of Firefox exclusively designed for Mac. Camino offers almost the same features as Firefox, but with no plugins.
Let's hope future versions will be more innovative.
- Firefox based;
- Mac-style interface;
- huge community.
You can download Chromium here.
Clear interface, stable and fast: these are the features that made Google Chrome popular and that make it stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, Chrome for Mac is still under development (although Google back in September said we had to wait just a couple of months)
- powerful engine;
- simple and clean interface;
- cool animations.
You can download Trailblazer here.
Doesn't work anymore on Leopard.
You can download Opera here.
Opera is third most popular Mac browser. It is relatively fast and has been the first browser that fulfilled all the W3C standards.Opera doesn’t include either the Webkit or Gecko rendering engines but is based on its own, named Presto.
You can download Wyzo here.
A Gecko based browser with entended download manager features.
- Torrents integration;
- Download manager.
You can download Arora here.
You can download Researcher here.
You can view only one page per one open window.
Back to 90's.
Playground is a minimal browser that watches a project directory for changes to files based on extension type.
Element Browser is a very simple and fast browser with an interface that mixes Safari and Windows Vista colors scheme.
Mac OS X version has got many limitations.
Betas / Nightly
You can download Webit here.
- try Safari's future now;
- Camino 2 Beta
You can download Camino Beta here.
Latest nightly builds.
- Firefox: Minefield
You can download Minefield here.
But fast,really (many says it's even faster than Google Chrome).
- try Firefox future now;
- tabs preview;
- many new features to come (built in Ubiquity, Taksfox).