I agree, full-screen applications are cool. Even before Lion, even before the iPad, I wanted to be able at least to surf the Web in full-screen mode. You can see more content (especially if you have a good-sized monitor), you can read articles without distractions, and places like Flickr are a joy to browse. When I started my investigation some time ago, I found that, for example, Firefox and Opera have a full-screen mode, so I could resort to them, but I never really liked their interfaces. I had high hopes for Shiira, an open source browser based on the WebKit engine. Shiira’s implementation of full-screen browsing is cleaner and hides the application chrome completely. Sadly it appears that its development has been abandoned for a while now, and the last version available (2.3) is still buggy in many places.
But then I found an interesting alternative. I already mentioned it time ago in my previous blog, but I think it’s worth a reminder: Plainview, by The Barbarian Group. I like it because it’s a lightweight application, it doesn’t suffer from feature creep, it’s based on WebKit, and most of all it works even under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. I use it a lot on my trusty sidekick, the Power Mac G4 Cube — full-screen Web browsing on the 22″ Cinema Display is really a treat. I also use it as a sort of screen saver by pointing it to this page, which is an HTML5 clock by Icondesign that’s meant to be accessed with Mobile Safari on an iPad, but it looks good even on bigger screens. If you prefer another kind of clock, you can point the browser to Every Time Zone. In addition, I find the Associated Press Timeline Reader perfectly suited to the full-screen experience.
Also, Plainview has a presentation mode. From the FAQ:
What else does Plainview do?
Plainview has a presentation mode – so you can build a presentation of, say, 10 sites you’ve built, and then show them one by one. Skip to the next site by hitting a hot key. We use this a lot for our Dog and Pony shows. We fire up one site we’ve done. Browse around. Show it. Time to move on? Skip to the next site, without opening up a location bar. Seamless, beautiful presentations.
You can also save presentations, add bookmarks, import your bookmarks, exit full-screen mode, open multiple windows, and view Quicktime movies. And check out the slick way we manage popups!
I’ll let you find out by yourselves about that ‘slick way’, but I really wish more browsers could do the same — it’s a nice detail.
So, if your Mac doesn’t support Lion, and you’d like to enjoy some elegant full-screen browsing, my humble suggestion is that you give Plainview a try.