With a large part of today’s applications in the cloud, it should come as no surprise that the choice of a browser is one near as weighted (and as fickle) as the choice of an operating system.
A number of things should be taken into account. This includes the speed of the application itself, the speed of page rendering, but also the general usability of the application. Countless applications with the required technical prowess have nevertheless faded from the spotlight when the usability was lacking and their users were left behind.
I admit, the first time I heard about Sleipnir, I wasn’t impressed. After skimming through the description I passed it off as yet another run of the mill, slightly revised take on web browsing. Ten minutes later, after taking it for a run, I was forced to revise my opinion.
Sleipnir is an honestly refreshing take on web browsing. Most of this is thanks to the interface. Sleipnir renders pages about as fast as your average modern web browser, but speeds up your workflow with a slick interface and great ease of use.
This review will only cover the Mac version of Sleipnir. However, the Sleipnir browser family encompasses more than one platform. Its namesakes tend to Windows, iOS and Android as well, and the Sleipnir synchronization agent, Fenrir Pass, can synchronize your bookmarks cross-platform.
Compact Address Bar
One of the first things you’ll notice about Sleipnir is its slick address bar. Well, rather the absence of it. During browsing, the address bar you’ve come to know is collapsed to its base domain, as you can see in the screenshot below.
If you click on this collapsed address, or after pressing cmd + L on your keyboard, the traditional address bar will unfold. Point Sleipnir to a new page and it will collapse again. This keeps it from taking up any unnecessary screen real estate. Also, it looks decidedly pretty.
Polished Tab Management
Have a look at the tab bar. It’s undoubtedly quite different from what you’re used to. Instead of actual ‘tabs’ with page names, Sleipnir shows a succession of screenshots. Hover over one of these tiles with your mouse, and the page name will appear.
Clicking on the grid icon to the left of the tab display (or pressing CMD + ALT + T) takes you to the TiledTab window. This is similar to the tab groups you may know from Firefox. TiledTab is structured according to six tab groups, shown on the bottom of the screen. You can rename and replace these to your heart’s content. One of these groups will show you the currently opened tabs.
Other default groups include Read Later, Research and Shopping. You can drag and drop pages between the different groups, or add new pages altogether. These collections will be preserved in between different browser sections.
Use of these tab groups is intended to replace the idea of having different browser windows open. In fact, it’s not possible to open multiple Sleipnir windows. In general, this works better than expected. It keeps your browsing structured even when opening a very large amount of pages. However, some browser capabilities, like opening two pages side by side are sorely missed.
Sleipnir is fitted with a bunch of touch gestures; perfect if you have a multi-touch trackpad. This is what makes the stranger features of the application still feel inherently natural.
With your mouse hovering over the tab views, use two fingers to scroll left or right between a large amount of tabs. If you keep your mouse in the center of the screen while doing this, you can pull over the adjoining tabs, as shown in the screenshot below.
Using two fingers on your trackpad to pinch out will take you to the TiledTab panel. Inversely, pinching in takes you back to the currently selected page. In TiledTab, you can also scroll left and right to switch between different tab groups. I suggest you try out these gestures, even if that’s not normally your cup of tea. It makes Sleipnir a breeze to use.
Do you think these changes are for better or for worse? What browser do you use, and why? Drop a line in the comments, and let us know!