We all love our browsers. Next to email, browsers are our ‘personal’ Mac application.
Is there anything out there better than Safari? Better than Firefox? Better than Camino, or OmniWeb, or Opera, or iCab, or Mozilla? Perhaps.
Take a look at Shiira. It’s free, it’s fast, it’s got ‘skins’, and sports a Dashboard Widget browser.
Why? Don’t we have enough browsers on the Mac already? Aren’t the Mac’s browsers best of breed, faster than IE on Windows, and more fun Courtney Love at a wine tasting?
It would be tough to beat Safari, right? Who could top Firefox? Remember, nothing improves without change. I’m not willing to say the new Shiira is the best Mac browser, but it’s fast, works well, has some unique features, and is the only browser that’s got it’s own Dashboard Widget.
Like most of Apple’s iPods and laptops, Shiira is from the Far East; Japan to be precise. The developer of Shiira says, “Shiira is a web browser based on Web Kit and written in Cocoa.”
“The goal of the Shiira Project is to create a browser that is better and more useful than Safari. All source code used in this software is publicly available.”
OmniWeb and Opera win the features war. Firefox is fast and extensible. Safari is fast and elegant. What’s Shiira? Pretty cool, actually.
Shiira uses the KHTML rendering engine provided by Apple’s Web Kit. Since this is the same rendering engine used by Safari, HTML content rendered by Shiira will look the same as in Apple’s own browser.
I couldn’t tell any difference in speed. Pages in Shiira seem to load about the same as in Safari. There’s a Shiira skin which even makes it look exactly like Safari.
The current version is rather loaded with features, though doesn’t compare to Opera or OmniWeb. It doesn’t have to. It’s different. Think of it as Safari with some cool things Safari can’t do.
There’s tabs and bookmarks. A side drawer (I don’t like that; even the one in OmniWeb). A customizable toolbar. Preferences. Multiple navigation buttons. And skins.
Ahhhh. Skins. Or, Themes. Same thing. Change from brushed aluminum as in Safari, to new age platinum plastic, and a bunch of button icon styles.
Blue Sky, Gin Kagami (silver mirror), Jade Stone, Metal Coin, and even a button style that makes Shiira look like Safari. The Japanese design influence is strong. So is the attention to detail.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. Why get a browser that’s built on Safari’s engine, and looks like Safari, and works like Safari?
Why do men climb mountains? Because they can. Why a new browser? Because they can.
The latest version of Shiira handles RSS support, the new sidebar, and incorporates sound effects here and there. For what it’s worth, I like little “whooshing” and “tinkle” sounds when I click on something. Sorry.
The page transition effect is only for Tiger users, but there’s also Private Browsing (a big favorite; should be default), and Shiira can handle Safari and Firefox bookmarks.
While there’s a list of odds and ends features in Shiira that you won’t get in Safari, perhaps the biggest distinction, besides the customization and sounds, is the Dashboard Widget.
Somehow, the developers have put together a Widget that’s a browser. That’s right. It’s a browser. Of course, it’s not loaded with features, but it, well, the Shiira Widget actually browses web sites.
One of the advantages of the Shiira Widget is that there’s no need to open the browser, because the Widget’s always there (multiple skins, too). The Widget also renders pages in a miniature version.
I’m not sure how they do that, but it’s a cool effect. Of course, the reduced size page also means text is reduced size, so it’s difficult to read. But it’s cool.
Windows users must wonder what’s going on with Mac development. Not only do we have the coolest new software to run on the excellent Mac OS X, we have more web browsers than we need.
Choice is good. If anything, it’s a little extra competiton without the cost. Shiira is free.
Click Here for the Shiira home page, features list, and download page.
Tera Jean Patricks
So many browsers. So little time. The Widget is very cool. So are the customizing features. Same speed as Safari.
Jack D. Miller
Bambi, we don’t climb mountains because ‘we can.’ We climb mountains because they’re there. Why try a new browser? Because we can.
This is a very nice effort. Detail and features touches are evident throughout. It’s not Safari. Or Firefox, though it’s fast. It’s a few of those extras you wished Safari had.
Carol Mary Miller
Jack, do you really need another browser? Especially another one with tabs and Private Browsing. What kinds of sites are you looking at that require private browsing?