We're Not on Safari

Sick and tired of Safari? Come on here! We'll try to give you a piece of advice as to what the alternatives are.

The tech world is feeling nowadays so much like the Wild West. For example, the Anonymous may pass for a modern incarnation of the Indians concept: they come from nowhere, wreak destruction and then vanish into thin air.

There are a couple of saloons, where here and there fights break out and the crowd starts cheering their favourites and bet who is going to win.

However, apart from anarchistic Indians and occasional brawls that happen between ol' rivals, there are also long-time feuds that are dragging on forever with no end in sight. One of these breathtaking never-ending wars is the browser war.

Usually a browser war features a leading browser (as a rule, the one pre-installed on the given OS) and a number of challengers, doing their best to rip off the largest share from the hegemon. On the Mac platform the tsar browser is Safari.

The problem with the standard browsers is that their developers don't have many incentives to constantly improve them, leaving the competitors lagging behind. Their popularity can be accounted already for the fact that most users are satisfied with the default browser they get alongside their OS.

Considering the circumstances, it's no wonder that the performance Safari used to deliver on the Apple desktops– and partly goes one delivering even now – was far from stunning. For example, it was not before the July 2011 benchmark tests, carried out by a number of leading IT-experts, that Safari could make a hard start (opening several dozens tabs simultaneously) without crashing. Its speed with more than 10 tabs open is way worse than that of, say, Google Chrome, while they both use WebKit layout engine developed by Apple. Comically, the mobile version of Safari is the coolest mobile web-browser I have ever laid my nerdy hands upon, and it is reflected in its 63% market share. For you to compare, Safari's share on the desktop market comprises 5.5%, and only grows proportionately to the Mac desktops sales.

Here a logical question arises: who challenges the leadership of Safari? The ranks of challengers are numerous and include such grand old programs as Firefox and Google Chrome. However, the pros and cos of these two browsers have been considered far and wide by hordes of IT-experts and journalists from all over, so it would make more sense to dwell upon their lesser-known counterparts.

1. Camino

Camino - Picture 1Camino - It Just Works

This browser raised mixed feelings in me.

When it comes to big names among the web-browser, you can mention at least several features that distinguishes each of these programs. Firefox has gobbles of add-ons, Google Chrome is speedy, and austerely designed... But Camino is nothing of the kind. It's just a regular web-browser: not really speedy, not astonishing with the awesomeness of its design, not having a huge fan community, scripting dozens of extensions for it every day.

Camino - Hu-u-u-uge BookmarksCamino - Hu-u-u-uge Bookmarks

You can get it onto your Mac, but you won't miss much if you don't. I, personally, decided not to use it, because it displays current and completed downloads in a separate window, like Firefox or Safari, whereas the Chrome's display mode (small tabs on the bottom of the browser screen) is much more convenient.

2. Stainless

Stainless - Stripped of Almost Everything… YetStainless - Stripped of Almost Everything… Yet

At first, you may be surprised by the size of the program: it's only 1.9 megabyte! However, hold your admiring gasps. After a more thorough consideration, you ponder the browser is so small only because it is still under development. Stainless lacks many quasi-standard web-browser features, so the final version will be definitely heavier than the current one. Nevertheless, I suppose it will be still more lightweight than the 49.5 Mb of Safari or 85.7 Mb of OmniWeb.

However, it is not the exceptionally small size that makes Stainless so unusual. Its major trump is its declared multi-processing capabilities. In layman's terms, it is the feature that allows you to log into two different accounts on one web-site, and browse simultaneously under both usernames. If this were true, Stainless would be able to revolutionize the Web. So far, however, the revolution-to-come seems to be miles away: Stainless fails to execute its multi-processing feature on Facebook, so for most users it's of absolutely no use.

Stainless - It’s Real TinyStainless - It’s Real Tiny

Apart from this potentially breakthrough feature, Stainless has little to boast. I have already said, it is still on the development stage, and doesn't feature such things as browsing or downloads history. The program's design also lacks originality: every single design element has a very, very strong Google Chrome flavour...

The originality vacuum is not surprising, if you know that at the earliest stage of its existence Stainless was devised as a showcase for multi-processing (to be honest, it hasn't made any great advance since then).

The absence of any noteworthy features apart from multi-processing is the reason why I would recommend this program only as a supplemental tool to use with some other web-browser. If the standard feature set finds its way to the code of Stainless, it will be one of the greatest browsers I know, but this metamorphosis will take certainly quite a lot of time.

3. OmniWeb

OmniWeb - Customize Any SiteOmniWeb - Customize Any Site

OmniWeb has already become a legend. It's been around for more than 15 years, and many people consider it as the only alternative of Safari web-browser on Mac.

Unlike Camino, OmniWeb has a huge charisma. It is absolutely impossible to mix it up with any other browser thanks to its distinct feel and unique design. For example, you will hardly find another web-browser with a vertical tab switching bar. On the other hand, it is arguable whether this menu layout is more convenient than the traditional one; and this topic caused a whole holywar, waging between the supporters and opponents of this popular program . As for me, I find it rather clumsy and inefficient in comparison to a horizontal tab bar, but tastes differ.

Another peculiar feature of OmniWeb is the so-called workspaces. They are essentially a group of browser windows, standing each for a specific search topic, allowing for simple switching between them with shortcuts or menu choices. This feature comes in especially handy, if you have a number of parallel tasks or you don't want to be heaped in a single browser window. Customizing you browsing is further facilitated by the browser's capability to specify site preferences, that will be applied to all of the site pages.

OmniWeb - Holywars around the Tab DrawerOmniWeb - Holywars around the Tab Drawer

On the whole, this browser is so far the only browser for Mac that could challenge the position of the Big Three (Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome). It has everything that a decent program of its kind should have, and is definitely worth giving a chance on your Mac.

***

To sum it all up, there are quite few really nice web browsers that could somehow shale the dominance of the market leaders. If you need 'just a browser' you can try Camino, a nice middling program. If you're one of the front-runners of progress and try to keep up with the latest developments in the tech field, Stainless is definetely a thing you should try. Finally, if you just want to experince something new but are not ready to part with the comfort you got used to so much, then OmniWeb is the web-browser of your choice.

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