Browsers, browsers and more browsers
In the past couple of weeks various tech blogs have been abuzz about what appears to be a change in Apple’s policy on competing or duplicating app functionality to their own apps. One particular category of applications that appear to be flooding the App Store is browsers. In the last few weeks there have been many released and while some are useful or provide extended functionality over Safari, most are not. Let’s look at just two of these browsers, likely the only two (in our opinion) worth adding to your browser choices on your iPhone or iPod Touch:
1. Web Mate by R.P.A. Tech. Web Mate makes every attempt to give you a more desktop “tabbed” browsing experience more than any other browser – except for maybe Safari itself. This is only because while Safari does offer a very usable browsing experience it does not allow you to open links into new tabs. This lacking feature in Safari is where Web Mate seized their opportunity to provide some competition. Knowing that this is a sore spot among power users, Web Mate does this one thing (tabbed browsing) well. However, while Web Mate shines in this area it also falls very short in giving a complete satisfactory browsing experience. Our biggest gripe is the excessive use off screen real estate that the tab controls and navigation bar take on the screen. This wouldn’t be bad except unlike Safari, these controls never go away, they are always present and therefore are always taking up screen realestate. We would prefer to lose the tabbed controller on the bottom of the screen and to navigate between tabs by “swiping” the screen, a comon and natural navigation gesture employed by many other apps. Secondly, make the top navigation bar scroll out of view when a page scrolls up (a la Safari) and these two improvements would make this browser a real winner.
Web Mate is $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.
2. FullBrowser by Omar Mashhour. FullBrowser is just that, it gives you access to the entire screen realestate (minus status bar) while browsing the web. The navigation and address bars are semi-transparent and are hidden on launch. To get them on the screen you must give your phone a little shake, and then to re-hide them touch the “hide” button on the top. That’s pretty much it for this app. Since this and all browsers in the iTunes App Store are based on the SDK’s included webkit the web page viewing experience is the same across the board.
Combine these two browsers and you’d have pretty much the perfect “second” browser for your device. Until then, keep looking.
FullBrowser is free in the iTunes App Store.