The Prettiest Web Browser Ever: Shiira

Shiira IconIf you’re in the mood to try out a relatively new web browser experience, try downloading Shiira 2.0, which was just released this morning. Without a doubt, it is the most attractive web browser ever created. Its interface is elegant and understated, exhibiting an excellent combination of minimalism and discrete functionality. It’s doesn’t really offer any revolutionary new capabilities, such as you find in Flock. But that’s okay. In a sense, Shiira is the traditional web browser perfected.

Produced in Japan, Shiira is based on Apple’s WebKit, so it offers the same essential functionality as Safari. However, it offers some very useful features that put it ahead of the default Mac OS browser. Borrowing a page from Omni Group’s also-excellent OmniWeb, Shiira presents tabbed web pages visually in a bar along the bottom of the window (these can be presented as regular tabs, if you prefer). However, moving a step beyond that, Shiira can do Exposé, just like the Mac OS. This feature presents all of your tabbed web pages full-screen simultaneously. The web browswer also has a very nice full-screen mode.

It’s not an empirical evaluation, but I’d say Shiira feels faster than either Firefox or Safari. The total user experience is excellent and well-thought out functional tweaks enhance usability. For example, instead of being hidden away in a menu or drawer, Shiira’s bookmarks are omnipresent in a semi-transparent “heads-up display” (HUD), just like you’d find in Apple’s iLife apps. It’s minor thing, but it screams, “why didn’t anybody else do this before?”

Shiira makes Apple’s own Safari look and feel long-in-the-tooth, and Firefox is downright garish in comparison. But that beauty doesn’t come at the cost of functionality and Shiira offers an advanced web browsing experience. It’s stable, fast, and uniquely capable. In every sense it’s a fully-qualified replacement for whatever web browser you’re using now

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