A relative minnow in the so-called “Browser Wars”, Camino released their Version 2.0 browser last week. Based on the Gecko rendering engine from Mozilla, Camino has been designed exclusively for the Mac in order to take advantage of all the APIs and services native to Mac OS X.
Personally I never saw a reason to use Camino 1.x, I had Safari for speed, Firefox for web development and Opera for compatibility testing. However, with the new release, and my Firefox install being a little slow and bloated, I migrated to Camino for a week. Today’s review will take a look at the different features in Camino 2.0 and whether or not it’s worth making the switch.
Downloading and installing Camino couldn’t be any simpler, go to their website CaminoBrowser.org, click Download, then install and you’re done.
Upon opening Camino for the first time we are presented with a very standard looking browser with navigation buttons to the top left, an address bar in the centre and the search bar in the top right. Underneath this is the bookmark bar with essential Camino bookmarks already in place. These include links to the Camino homepage, plugins directory and Mozilla homepage. I’m not a big fan of the large navigation buttons, they look a little amateurish and could have been a little smaller. Navigating back or forward more than one page is also a little irritating, having to click and hold the arrow in order to bring up the drop down of past webpages, then having to hold the mouse down until you are hovering over the page you wish to navigate to. It can be a little fiddly at times.
The Camino homepage shows all the latest features with Camino 2.0 designed to improve your browsing experience. We’ll go through the most important of these now.
Camino 2.0 comes with a whole host of new features which make browsing the internet much more enjoyable than with 1.x and also bringing it in line with the other major browsers of today. First up is the Tab Overview (Ctrl-Command-T) screen which displays all of your currently open pages allowing you to quickly navigate between each one. One slight problem with this is the fact that if you have too many tabs open, the Tab Overview page does not like to scroll, so you can end up not being able see them all. However, this is only extreme circumstances where I had 20+ tabs open
Improved Tab Control
Also included in Camino 2.0 is more control over your tabs. You can now rearrange their order, scroll along the tab bar and get a tabs menu showing a list of all open tabs. While Camino does not support dragging tabs into a new window, a simple alternate click allows you to replicate this action.
Growl & Keychain
Camino 2.0 also utilises the Mac APIs to their full potential, integrating with Growl for download notifications and Keychain to enable saving usernames and passwords on websites and bringing across your saved passwords from Safari. Camino also includes greatly improved security features, with the same malware and phishing data as Safari and Firefox.
For those users wishing to block annoying adverts like Google Ads, or not display Flash content, these can both be removed with the click of a button. There is also a built in pop-up blocker and the ability to prevent websites from changing, moving or resizing windows.
As with Firefox, Camino supports 3rd party add-ons (although not in the same volume as Firefox) and these can be accessed at PimpMyCamino.com. Add-ons range from Firebug Lite for Web Development, to CaminoKing for automating updates to the latest nightly build.
Camino’s integration with Keychain is unfortunately not as flawless as I would have hoped. Over the past week I have had numerous crashes when trying to save or retrieve passwords with Keychain. Thankfully Camino can restore pages after crashing and loads up incredibly quickly so while this is currently an inconvenience, it is one that can be lived with until the problem is fixed.
Disappointingly from a personal point of view, Camino has no support for a lot of emerging HTML and CSS features including @font-face and some HTML 5 tags, so it is already about a year behind current web trends.
Camino is a useful, lightweight browser with great security features and integration with OSX. Version 2.0 has begun to bring it inline with the other major browsers, however with slow development cycles it will never be up to speed with Firefox and Safari.
This is unfortunate because it really could be a great browser. It’s quick, it’s secure, it uses less memory than Safari or Firefox, but if you are a regular user of either of these then its hard to recommend a reason to change. If there are any developers out there looking to contribute to an Open Source project then get in touch with the Camino guys and help to drive this little browser forwards.