Camino: Supermodel of a Browser?

Being a Mac user, I’ve always had a problem with Firefox. I’ve thought long and hard about tasteful analogies for my relationship with it, but I keep coming back to a somewhat shallow one: Firefox is like the girl in school who you knew you should probably date because she’s intelligent, multilingual, and funny, but she just wasn’t very attractive to you.

Safari, on the other hand, has been the opposite: Hot as hell and lives right down the street, but offers little more than instant gratification of primal needs.

Many people who can’t stand to be without both types of relationships have evolved into “browser polygamists”… or, people who use multiple browsers during their normal daily routine. Jon Hicks could be considered the king of the Browser Polygamy movement, hopping from application to application with the recklessness of a late 70s porn star. Jon likes multiple browsers, and he’s not ashamed to admit it.

I, on the other hand, have never liked using multiple apps for any chore, whether it be browsing, e-mail, design, code, or whatever else. I want a single point of entry into whatever I’m doing.

And so it was with great interest that I started playing around with the latest Camino betas a couple of months ago. Camino you say? Wasn’t that a truck that late 70s porn stars drove around in? Nope, that’s the “El Camino“. This is Camino, the web browser; an application I remember using back when it was called “Chimera” in the early OS X days.

Camino is like Firefox with a beautiful makeover. I’m not talking about Lee Press-On Nails and an Ogilvie Home Perm… I’m talking an X-Code workout regimen, a healthy diet of Cocoa, and a Quartz mineral bath. Think of Firefox as Paris Hilton — gets all the press, will compile for anybody, and is a bit strange looking. Think of Camino as younger sister Nicky — much cuter, a bit more refined, and up until now in the shadow of her sister.

Anyway, with today’s announcement of the official 1.0 version, Camino has finally emerged from the shadow of its older sister to become a true contender in the Mac browser space. It looks better than Safari and it feeler faster than Firefox… that’s a great start. Here are some more things I am loving about Camino:

  1. It’s a snap to import all of your Safari bookmarks.
  2. The interface is outstanding. Not only is it truly Mac-ish in appearance, but as mentioned above, it’s actually more visually appealing to me than Safari.
  3. It’s faster than Firefox in all ways, and it seems faster than Safari in certain, but not all occasions. When browsing from page to page within a site (viz. when all JS and CSS are already in cache) you can barely even see the pages repaint. It does seem a tad slower on full page fetches, but as Camino team member Samuel Sidler says, “speed is subjective”.
  4. Safari’s preferences are limited, but in Camino, almost everything is configurable. Apple’s decision to keep Safari simple isn’t a bad one, as most casual Mac users don’t want to see 1000 options in front of their faces (see: Adium… which I love, by the way), but it is really nice to have a good, highly configurable browser to use again.
  5. A more comprehensive History display.
  6. It supports all of the same WYSIWYG web editors that every other browser besides Safari does. Incidentally, this is really my only major beef with Safari from an internals perspective as this point. But it’s a huge beef.
  7. Everything Hicksy says here and Om says here.

What don’t I like about Camino? Well, really only three things:

  1. The seemingly slight lag in full-page fetches (although I could be imagining this).
  2. The lack of a Javascript debugger and other extensions.
  3. No native spellchecking.

So with that, I will now be trying out Camino as my primary browser for the next month or so. If you’re lookin’ for a change, I recommend you do the same.

Note: Observant readers may notice that I first compare Firefox to a smart woman and then to Paris Hilton. Two separate analogies. Try not to confuse them.

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66 Responses:

  1. Rob says:


    That brushed metal is ugly, isn’t it? I’ve always disliked it. It reminds me of those cheesy web page templates from places like GeoCities back in like 1998. Camino is beautiful — simple and elegant. Opera still looks like hell on a Mac. Carbon. iCab is OK looking, but IMO, the best looking, and best operating browsers on the Mac are Camino and OmniWeb.

  2. @Rob Yeah, Camino is by far the nicest looking of the browsers out there (not just for OS X, obviously). I am actually using it now; mainly thanks to Mike and Jon. I don’t like using third party apps where there is already a good alternative shipped with the OS, and I don’t like not having spell check and I don’t like running 2 or 3 applications while I could run one (ie. RSS)… But I have been convinced to give it a little longer and am trying Newsfire as an RSS aggregator also which I quite like at the moment. Updates to follow for sure.

  3. ACoolie says:

    I love Camino and have been using it since I got a Mac, but the one thing that I can’t stand is that within an hour of browsing, Camino starts to lag and I mean lag. Memory usage goes up to 900 Megabytes and cpu usage varies from anywhere to 40% to 90%. I have even tried using the optimized builds but they still are almost as bad. Otherwise, Camino is great.

  4. Dave says:

    “browser polygamists”

    Oh dear me, what a world we live in!

  5. Stacey says:

    I find your women analogies highly amusing as, having read some of the comments on this site, I cannot imagine that any of you have ever had contact with a woman. Why not turn your computers off and venture out of your basements?

  6. Steve K says:

    What a coincidence, #55, my fiancee’s name is Stacey also!

    So back on topic, what’s the likelyhood that Camino can get compatible with Firefox extensions? Now THAT would be a serious browser.

  7. Alex says:

    #55: Because then, Stacey, we’d never have the opportunity of meeting you, who from this side of the keyboard appear to be exactly what is missing in our lives.

    Mike: I know Camino uses Gecko, but I am finding weird rendering variations between it and Firefox (sometimes divs will just flat out disappear). Until that problem is solved, Camino reminds me too much of my college girlfriend: Nice looking, but ultimately broken in a way I can’t fix. :-)

  8. josh says:

    so far it’s not bad, but two things seem to really be annoying me.

    1. in my experience, camino is sufficiently slower than safari. maybe this was the lag in page loads you (mike) were talking about, however it seems to be extreme, especially when opening multiple tabs at once.

    2. apparently you can’t drag images from within camino into the dock to have them open in some application. this has really driven me crazy, because i’m always grabbing the odd image from the web and dropping it into photoshop.

    on a lesser note, i wish there was a smaller disparity between the length of the address field and the google search bar. i almost never need to see entire urls (which is often possible on a 21″ display), whereas it’s much more important to see more than 15 characters of my search terms.

  9. nerkles says:

    When I can copy and paste into and keep the formatting and images, I’ll think about switching (that part about not being able to drag an image out is too annoying to tolerate as well). Until then it’s Safari for browsing and Firefox with the Web Developer toolbar for web development (you can’t beat that combo).

    It’s a nice browser, really (so is FF), but those two missing features bring me back to Safari every time.

    (In case anybody was going to mention it, Thunderbird is not an option, it just doesn’t stand up to IMHO).

  10. Milos says:

    […] A very accosting layout and a interesting discussion topic, do you provide any Web-based services to universities or students. […] – Sorry for the stupid question :-)

  11. Umami says:

    Everyone loves web browser/supermodel analogies…

    And Mike Davidson brings us an excellent article on Camino reaching 1.0….

  12. Camino

    I’ve been busy, and neglecting of my gentle audience. I apologize – I’ll be back to posting again soon. In the mean time I couldn’t not post about this… If you are on a Mac you must try Camino!…

  13. Camino: �much cuter, a bit more refined.�

    Achtung, Nerdcontent: Wenn Mac-Nutzer über ihren Computer und dessen Zubehör sprechen, dann oft sehr emotional. Apple-CEO Steve Jobs, der die eigentlichen Höhepunkte seiner Keynotes oft im Rausgehen präsentiert (�One more thing..�)…

  14. says:

    Camino Web Browser

    En el Blog de Mike Industries me llamó la atención un post sobre Camino, un navegador.
    Según él nos cuenta, tiene los siguientes pros:

    It’s a snap to import all of your Safari bookmarks.
    The interface is outstanding. Not only is it truly Mac-is…

  15. Han says:

    Funny thing, I always thought the full-page load lag for Camino obvious.

    Firefox is slow as hell, both on my Mac and PC. Can’t seem to figure out why.

    Opera is the best, though, better than either Camino, FF, or Safari. Among other things, it has Mail, IRC, widget engine, and a ton of other features all bundled in together with the web browser, plus it’s way faster and way more secure. It also has this trash can feature that’s like the “Recently Opened Tabs” in the History menu in FF, except you don’thave to go through a menu to get to it. Waaay better.

    (note: admittedly, this poost was read and the comment made in Camino)

  16. Nick Marshall says:

    Love the analogy for FireFox and Safari, so true. I think it’s a little bit different today, now that Lion is out and Safari just “works” better with the Mac, but funny nonetheless.

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