Format: Digital download
Price: Donations accepted
Version Reviewed: v3.1
It’s been a while since I reviewed the indie Roccat Web Browser for OS X. Roccat was at version 2.3 when it was the subject of my last critique, and it’s now up to version 3.1, which was released a couple of weeks ago. I’m happy to report that it’s been refined and tweaked to a point where most of my previous criticisms have been addressed, and it’s now a stable and speedy performer.
For example, one of my previous complaints was that there was no warning for those of us who have multiple tabs open and absent-mindedly hit the red “Close” button. That has been fixed.
I do with the contextual menu for image copy or download offered more options, such as a “save image as” selection. There’s still no online Help document, either in the application or on the RuneCats Website (at least that I could find), so you’re left with the Roccat support forum if you can’t figure things out for yourself.
Roccat uses an enhanced version of Apple’s Webkit browser engine, the tweaking principally in aid of making the browser faster, but with attention also to making the user interface more attractive, deeper-featured, and easier to use. Roccat 3.1 is claimed to be faster and more stable than Roccat 3.0 and also includes various bug fixes and feature upgrades, which include:
- Roccat Reader now has updated buttons which are less distracting
- Fixed a Roccat Flick issue that caused inability to flick websites when using Roccat 3.0
- Fixed an RClouds bug causing users to not be able to view there backups if they didn’t have an bookmarks.
- Removed unneeded code, thereby boosting performance
- Updated VisiTabs which now show more tabs at once
Returning Roccat features include:
- VisiTabs which give a preview of the website in the tab. Visitabs can be configured to appear on any of the browser page’s four margins, or in a drawer.
- Navigate Launchers – assign letters or words to navigate to webpages, there are already many preloaded ones
- Ad-remover built within the engine
- Email-Previewer tells you when a link is an email link and tells you the link
- Change User Agents – view sites which want other browser, such as to view Apple’s videos which require Safari, etc.
- A choice of VisiTabs or normal tabs or both
- A bookmarks bar which fully supports bookmarklets
- Download Manager has fullscreen mode (for those who like fullscreen, which I don’t)
Roccat is an excellent browser choice if you’re a fan of thumbnail page tabs, offering two tab options: garden variety default tabs plus VisiTabs. Both modes let you reorder tabs as you prefer and quickly switch between them. The default tabs give you more viewing space to see the website you’re currently on, while VisiTabs give you a preview of the website on each tab. VisiTabs can be resized to whatever size you want and can be moved to any size of Roccat. It can also be moved to a Drawer. If you need the full depth of the monitor screen, you can hide the tabs bar with a mouse click. Visitabs also serve page load progress bars.
Roccat Reader was a new feature in Roccat 3, allowing you to read articles in a distraction free mode, extracting only the content you care about. Roccat Reader comes with 3 reading modes: Night mode, Day mode and Sepia mode.
Another really cool Roccat feature is a handy pulldown submenu link to Google Translate.
Roccat also has Lovebyt.es integration, so you can easily and quickly shorten URLs for Twitter and other social networks.
Roccat automatically removes around 99.9% of the web’s advertisements. Most web ad-blockers load the adverts code and then block it. However, Roccat’s ad remover actually removes adverts before they load, meaning far quicker page loading times.
FusedBar is an address bar which has been fused with a search bar, providing lots of built-in features. For example, you can use twitter @ and # tags or even type locate followed by a place to search Google Maps. Roccat 3 + has FusedBar 2 which has FusedBar suggestions, allowing you to search your history, bookmarks and Google suggestions as well as your recent sites. It also has a feature called TabSearch which allows tab searching and switching, straight from the address bar.
Roccat has a gaggle of social networking features, and can share sites with more than 20 social networks. It also has the ability to update your Facebook status no matter what tab you are on, thanks to the ‘Facebook Status’ feature.
For easy revisit action of websites you’ve visited and want to find again, Roccat organises your browsing history by day.
RClouds allows you to back up your settings, open tabs, imported bookmarks, bookmarks, navigate launchers, and history, and to restore your backups to any Mac so your browsing session can be cloud portable. RClouds Reset allows you to reset your browser to factory settings (especially useful when you’ve restored your data to a public computer).
Also new since My last Roccat review is the $1.99 iOS version—Roccat Connect—which gives you access to your desktop’s open tabs on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad from Roccat on your Mac over RClouds. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Roccat Connect requires iOS 5.1 or later, and is optimized for iPhone 5.
There is also a free version that doesn’t include Roccat Flick. I checked out the free version. It is fast, but also very bare bones, even by iOS browser standards, and will mainly be of interest to users of Roccat for Mac who want RCClouds enabled access to their browser data on a portable device.
Roccat Flick requires the other user to have Roccat 2.5 or above for Mac (free) or Roccat Connect 1.0 or above for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. RClouds for desktop open tab access requires Roccat 2.0 or above (free) with an RClouds account (free), on a Mac with Leopard or above (PPC or intel).
Prior to OS X 10.7 Lion, it was assumed we would use scrollbars in pretty much every piece of software we use, so Roccat’s developers figured this would be the perfect interface for navigating through VisiTabs. However, VisiTabs, like most parts of Roccat, support multi-touch gestures so you can swipe through your tabs easily. Roccat also supports other multi-touch gestures, such as pinch to zoom, making it possible to quickly zoom in and out of webpages without having to trek through menus.
Roccat has an extensive palette of preferences for almost every section of the browser, making it easy to customize settings. Another feature ported from the RuneText family is the case changer. The case changer allows you to add correct cases in your writing on the web; just another small feature to make your life easier. The spellchecker can also check spelling as you type.
Roccat’s Find feature allows you to quickly find what you are looking for on a page, and you can also highlight text and use that as the word to find on the page.
No matter what browser you use, there will be some websites that tell you you need a different browser to view the site, although most of these sites actually work fine with “unauthorized” browsers. Roccat lets you change your user agent, which is what websites use to determine which browser you are using, so it can masquerade as various versions of Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox, a couple of versions of Opera, and Runecats’ own Explorer.
I had given Roccat 1.8 and 2.3 a middling 3 out of 5 rating. For Roccat 3.1, I’ll upgrade that to 4 out of 5, trending toward 5 out of 5, and I can’t think of any reason not to use it as your everyday browser.
[Update - April 21, 2013: Changed rating graphic to reflect 4 out 5 rating.]