Wednesday, July 7, 2010

iPAD : Alternative browsers to Safari

Safari the browser on the iPAD is disappointing. It doesn't provide tabbed browsing, and tapping any link opens a new window that must be loaded prior to viewing. Once you select a new link, the previous pages are not available to view and you need to use the back button to view it , losing your current view. Unlike the browser on the desktop, previous pages are not cache in a History page which you can search for past webpages visited. You cannot even email out any website page link to others. So I have been scouting round and found these 2 browsers which are better alternatives - there are not perfect but at least offer more features.
Here are reviews of 2 alternatives which I have tested : Life Web Browser and Atomic Web Browser

Life Web Browser
Developer :
Price : US$ 1.99

This browser is designed just for the iPad. It does not  attempt to mimic the features of a desktop browser like Firefox but instead tries to add new twists that take advantage of the iPad’s unique features. Life Browser eliminates the concept of tabs entirely and operates with a swiping mechanism similar to Cover Flow. 
Imagine being able to swipe through your favorite websites on your iPad the same way you swipe through pages in iBooks. That’s what Life Browser for iPad does and more. While you're looking at the home page in Life, you'll notice the edges of two other pages, one to the left and another to the right. To navigate to these other sites, you can use the left / right arrows at the bottom of the page (which conveniently have the name of the sites on them), touch one of the edges (this works well when you're holding the iPad in both hands), or swipe right or left using four fingers. You swipe through sites as if you are swiping through pictures in iPhoto.
Other Key Features:
-  It’s easy to add and remove a website with the plus key and minus key at the bottom. You can also swipe pages using the labeled button keys at the right side bottom.
- Because Life Browser can guess where you may go next, it pre-loads pages to the right and to the left. That way, they’re ready when you are.The "side pages" are loading while you're looking at a page. When you're ready to move to one of your other favorite pages, they're already loaded and ready to view. Want to view a page in full screen mode with no buttons or the address bar? Tap the full-screen button at the bottom of the screen to toggle full-screen viewing on and off. 
- The Q (queue) button is another powerful feature.  It makes it easier to load up lots of websites and to read them without reloading. Tapping the “Q” button makes every link you tap queue up below the current page. Users then can page up and down between these pages, each of which load in the background while the current page is being read.  When you're ready to start reading, tap the up and down arrows at the top of the page to move through the stack. Most of the time those pages will already be downloaded and ready to view
-Favorite Sites are identified and saved automatically for future use
-Advanced multi-touch features recognize a variety of gestures. One finger can scroll through sites, two fingers can zoom in and out, three fingers go backward and forward in the history, four fingers move between open windows.
-Instead of text representing a bookmark, a thumbnail image of the site is saved and used as a bookmark. The makes recognizing a remembering a good site easier and more intuitive
-A single URL address bar and a Google search bar complete with auto-suggestions. Google suggestions will appear underneath the address bar. 
-Emails can be sent with a simple tap of a button.  You can share a page with someone without leaving Life Web Browser by tapping the email link button.
Some weakness :
- The pre-loading feature can cause a lot of the Ipad’s memory to be used up quickly. This can cause the application to start lagging and the system to slow down noticeably. Additional problems arise with saved sites. Some pages are not able to be cached or saved for future use during a browsing sessions. 
- Bookmarks are not easily transferred to the Ipad from another browser such as Safari.
- In some cases, links that worked fine in Safari wouldn’t activate in Life Browser. The developer is looking into this. 
- As Life Browser is doing some page loading in the background, it can sometimes seem not as responsive as Safari. 
Official Video :

Links :

Atomic Web Browser
Developer : Rich Trautvetter
Price : US$ 0.99

Atomic Web’s main attraction is tabbed browsing. Atomic Web handles tabs like a desktop browser, displaying them directly underneath the address bar. When you press and hold on a link, a contextual menu allows you to open the page in a foreground or background tab. Switching between tabs is instantaneous — a huge relief given that Safari sometimes has to reload pages if you stray for too long.
Tabbed browsing isn’t Atomic Web’s only advantage. There’s also full screen browsing, find in page, multi-touch shortcuts (two-finger swipes with customizable actions), support for a couple dozen search tools, private mode, an ad blocker and customizable colors.
However when you quit the browser, it has to reload all your pages again next time you start up, even if you set the browser to preserve all open tabs after quitting.  Even worse, your navigation history (forward and back buttons) resets. What this means is that Atomic can’t be used seamlessly: without saving the user state upon exit, no amount of functionality in the world can help it compete with Mobile Safari, which is always running and always remembers what you were doing when you exited.
Atomic makes the same mistake as Safari in that it treats the location bar and search bar as distinct when it could be merge.



  1. "However when you quit the browser, it has to reload all your pages again next time you start up, even if you set the browser to preserve all open tabs after quitting."

    i have the same gripe about atomic web browser... and so i'll stick with safari

  2. Safari is a good browser and if it works properly with ipad then there is no need to try the other options. I must appreciate the video's you have provided in your post. They are very informative.
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