Earlier this month, version 1.5 of the OSX Camino browser was released. Camino is based on the same Mozilla rendering engine as Firefox, but unlike Firefox, Camino behaves much more like a native OSX application, without a lot of the overhead (such as the XUL user interface) that Firefox brings with it.

Ever since I started using the Mac, I’ve never been a big fan of Safari. I have used Firefox up till now, but I’ve been getting less and less excited about it. It simply seems to be getting a bit bloated and unresponsive, and I’ve gotten quite sick of continuously seeing the “spinning wheel of death”. I have even used the Intel Mac optimized Bon Echo build for a while, but this didn’t seem to improve things that greatly either.

I tried an earlier version of Camino before and wasn’t that impressed with it, because it was sorely lacking in features at the time. However, a lot of these were added in Camino 1.5, so I decided to give it another try. I have been using it for a good week now, and so far I am very pleasantly surprised. It feels extremely fast and responsive, at least as fast as Safari and significantly faster than Firefox. Camino now supports “search as you type”, one of the features that I have always missed in non-Firefox browsers. It also saves your sessions and restores these after a restart, including all open tabs (a Firefox 2.0 feature that I would not be able to do without any more).

It does have a few shortcomings, though:

So while there are still several mildly annoying shortcomings (mostly around tab handling), I am excited about Camino’s sheer speed and responsiveness, as well as stability (no crashes so far, knock on wood…). And of course, you still get the same great HTML rendering compatibility as Firefox.

I think I’ll try to stick with Camino for now. I might end up going back to Firefox for certain tasks due to the awesome plugin support (particularly for web development), but I don’t have much of a reason to use Safari any more.

I should also mention that while Camino isn’t nearly as extensible as Firefox, many useful extensions can be found at Pimp My Camino.