Browsers for iOS

Danny Gorog
16 December, 2011
View more articles fromthe author
AAA
Blogs

In the early days of the App Store, creating apps that competed with the already included iPhone apps was bad business. Apple routinely rejected them and developers got discouraged.

But thanks to the threat of competition from other platforms like Android, Apple now accepts most categories of apps from third-party developers.

One area that has flourished since then is the availability of third-party web browser apps. While all of these apps are required to use the built-in iOS WebKit rendering engine (the best in the business, so why wouldn’t you?) they have all innovated in terms of user interface and usability.

They have introduced features that Mobile Safari (the included browser) doesn’t have like tabbed browsing, better privacy settings and the ability to modify your browser’s user-agent (the label with which your browser presents itself to the world).

Opera Mini

Opera Software

iPhone/iPad

Free

Aimed at improving overall browsing speed, Opera Mini actually passes all of your requests through its own set of powerful servers that compress the data up to 90 percent before it’s sent to your device.

This results in a faster, more cost- efficient browsing experience for your iPhone or iPad.

According to Opera, Opera Mini can help render pages up to six times faster than Mobile Safari when you’re on a slow or crowded network.

Opera Mini also introduces some useful features like Speed Dial and Visual Tabs. Speed Dial lets you access your favourite websites with a single tap while Visual Tabs lets you see all of your open webpages and switch between them easily.

Lastly, if you use Opera Mini on more than one device you can easily synchronise your bookmarks between devices.

Dolphin

Mobo Tap

iPhone/iPad

Free

The Dolphin browser actually made a name for itself by being the first gesture browser for mobile devices. Interestingly, Dolphin was available on the Android platform before coming to iOS.

As well as Gestures, Dolphin has some other key features that make it the browser of choice for more than nine million users, including Webzines, One Click Share and Speed Dial.

Webzines is a similar feature to the new Reader feature in iOS 5 that gets rid of all the clutter on a web page to let you focus on the content.

One-click share lets you share websites while browsing without leaving the page you’re on.

To share a site you simply click the Twitter icon on the top right corner of the screen and then send the link as a Tweet or post it to your Facebook wall.

Speed Dial is a feature that lets you go to your favourite website really quickly. Think of Speed Dial as a list of your frequently visited websites that you want to get to with one touch.

Terra – Web Browser

Readdle

iPad

Free

One of the most frequent complaints I hear about the iPad is the limitations of its browser.

It’s not that Safari is a slouch in terms of speed, but it does miss some features now commonplace in desktop browsers.

The biggest and most important feature is tabs. Enter Terra, an iPad browser that lets you have as many tabs as you want, plus some other great features too.

Using Terra is very familiar. Tap the ‘+’ tab in the right hand corner to start a new tab and simply navigate to the page you want. You close the tabs by pressing the cross on the open tab. Terra claim that it supports ‘unlimited’ tabs, but like any iOS app it will need to refresh the contents on the page when memory runs low.

Terra also has a couple of other features I really like. The first is the ability to change the user agent of the browser.

For example, you can get Terra to pretend it’s Firefox or Chrome to the website you’re visiting.

In some cases that means you can access the ‘full’ website rather than the iPad or mobile version the site would rather provide.

Lastly, Terra makes it easy to save web pages for viewing while offline, and will also include images too. This feature is perfect for when you’re away from a network, like when you’re on a plane.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us