Android App Review: ICS Browser +

Android 4.0’s new web browser has been hailed for being one of the fastest and most intuitive offerings on the market. However, like its competitors, it isn’t perfect. An XDA user took matters into his own hands and decided to add a couple tweaks to the stock browsing experience.

Features

Some of the main features this tweak will add include the option to get extra “Quick Controls”, the ability to set the user agent, the option to use volume buttons for faster scrolling, and the ability to use Gestures for various customizable functions.

Let’s start off with Quick Controls. In the stock browser, enabling this feature will replace the default on-screen buttons with a small hemispherical menu that pops up when you touch the edge of the display. You will be given 5 options that enable you to quickly open a new tab, switch tabs, access the address bar, view your bookmarks, or open the browser menu. Beansoft took this idea and implemented additional controls like forward, back, refresh, and close tab. These refinements are small, but make Quick Control navigation much more pleasant. For example, you may now close your current tab without having to enter tab view to do so.


As you can see, several additional functions have been added to Quick Controls. Everything you love about it is still there including the fast tab-switching.

Another important modification is the ability to set the current user agent. By tricking sites into thinking you are on a desktop or tablet, this feature allows you to avoid the retched mobile version of a site. You may have noticed that the iFans chat feature goes missing on mobile devices. When the user agent is set to “Desktop” in ICS Browser +, the dialog boxes show up.


The different settings for User Agent are seen here.

Lastly, Beansoft has added two other features to further streamline the browsing interface. The first is the ability to scroll with the volume keys. It may not sound very practical, but few users of Safari’s status bar scroll function will be thrilled to find that they must swipe up a dozen times to reach the top of the webpage. Now, the process is simple and requires a simple tap of one of the volume buttons to reach the very top or very bottom of a website. Gesture control has been added to appeal to users accustomed to Dolphin HD’s feature. However, it’s not fully developed yet, since it only gives you 3 options.


The options given for Gestures are limited as of now. An “Open New tab” feature would be nice
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Features - ★★★★★

Graphics

Nothing was changed from the original browser as far as the visual style goes. It’s still the clean holographic blue + matte black theme that users have come to either love or hate about Android 4.0. The only difference I noticed was that Quick Controls now displays two concentric semicircles rather than just one, added in order to accommodate the extra options. Since its simply a tweak, ICS Browser + retains the superb performance and smooth navigation of the default browser. If you’re confused as to why no changes were made, you missed the purpose of the app; it was designed to make various improvements to the stock browser while keeping the same UI that has won praise everywhere.


It’s the same browser as the stock ICS one, just tweaked. As you may have guessed, it does not work in Gingerbread.

Graphics - ★★★★★

Reuse

Intended to be a tweak rather than a replacement browser, ICS Browser + does not fail to make the make the stock experience more efficient. Fans of Quick Controls will love the new features and those looking for a way to quickly jump to the top or bottom of a webpage will be pleased to see volume-scrolling. Even though it will show up us a separate app, there’s simply no reason not to install this tweak. It’s a simple evolution of the fantastic base Google has already given us.

Reuse - ★★★★★

Value

Although Beansoft offers a “donation version” of the app in the Android Market, it has no advantage over its free counterpart as of now. However, the developer says the paid variant will become a “Pro” version in the near future. At this point in time, the free version will suffice for anyone and provides important enhancements to the Ice Cream Sandwich browser.

Value - ★★★★★

Final Thoughts

Some of the features ICS Browser + has can be seen in alternative browsers like Dolphin HD and Opera Mobile. However, no other browser on the Android Market can replicate the intuitive interface or visual style of Google’s creation. Beansoft was simply looking to do the community a favor by enhancing this creation with some extra tweaks, and they haven’t failed to satisfy anyone.

Final Score

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.

 

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