This is a guest post by EasyOSX. EasyOSX is a Mac technology blog founded specifically for the Mac community. You can check it out at easyosx.wordpress.com
For this next installment in the “Browser Wars” series, we look at another Chromium browser that takes stuff out of Chrome rather than puts something in it.
Whether or not you like them, Google makes a lot of great and influential products. Among them, Chrome has really moved the browser market forward with its minimalist design, fast update cycle, and rapid growth. However, for all of Chrome’s goodness, some people are concerned about Google’s hand in it. They worry about Google keeping records of their visits, if their personal information is going to be sold to advertisers, etc. (I mean, what other major browser actually makes you have a user agreement before you can use it). Many still want to test the power and speed of Chrome. Simple put, they want Chrome without Google. The solution comes from Germany (don’t worry, it’s in English).
SRWare is a German company that takes Google Chrome’s code and strips Google out of the code, maintaining the focus of the browser on privacy and security. In its place is the browser Iron (creative with the metal-based naming scheme aren’t they?). Even without Google’s code “features”, Iron isn’t a deprived browser. Iron still has all the speed of Chrome, as well as almost all of the features, including a minimalist design, sandboxed tabs (meaning if one tab crashes, the whole browser doesn’t go down), and an easy to grasp control panel. They even have a built-in ad-blocker within Iron (though I still use AdBlock +). If you have a Google Account (like Gmail, etc), you can still sync Iron’s passwords, bookmarks, etc. across computers with the built-in sync feature. And let’s not forget about extensions; you can still install Chrome extensions and apps from Google’s repository (or you can use Iron’s own little repository). While I still use Rockmelt as my primary browser, Iron is a great Chrome substitute, especially for people who are very privacy conscious. I actually used Iron before Rockmelt as my primary browser and I loved it.
- SRWare Iron Logo
That being said, there are a few things in Iron that just don’t seem right. First of all, every major browser has either an auto-update feature, or at least has a way of notifying you of updates. Iron doesn’t have it, at all. If you want to see if there is an update, you need to check their downloads page occasionally, or follow them on Twitter. They claimed to take it out because of privacy, but at least there should be some easier way of notifying us of updates would be nice.
One other complaint is on the Mac side of updating. When Chrome updates, Iron gets updated about a week later for Windows, and a little after that for Linux. The Mac version traditionally has been updated only every 2 Chrome versions. This makes Mac users (like me) feel a little bit left out for new features, speed, and security upgrades. However, with the update to Chrome 13, SRWare announced they will be working to release the Mac and Windows version side-by-side (sorry Linux users).
Otherwise Iron is a great browser for people who want Chrome, without the privacy worries that you may have about Google. Iron works for OSX 10.4 and higher (including Lion), Windows XP, Vista, and 7, & most major Linux distributions. You can download it from http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron_download.php