[Review] Your Guide to iDevices Browsers

Discussion in 'iTunes App Store Reviews' started by Ouchy_S, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. Ouchy_S

    Ouchy_S Member

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    Your Guide to iDevice Browsers

    So, you just got your fancy new iDevice, and you want to use the internet on it. But what choices do you have on what to use? This guide/review will hopefully make your decision a little easier, and explain to you what each App is like, and how it performs, so you can make the best decision possible.

    Updates:
    • 16 July - Wrote the Guide
    • 17 July - Fixed Grammar and Spelling Issues. Added in Mercury

    Future Updates:
    • Fix grammar issues - Next update
    • Add in a speed category, test the loading time of a page in all browsers.
    • Add in more Apps


    NB: I am on 3.1.3 on an iPod Touch Third Generation at the time of this writing.


    In this Guide, I will review the following:
    • Safari - Native iDevice Browser
    • Opera Mini
    • Firefox Home
    • Mercury

    Safari


    • Price:Free with every iDevice. Is the native browser
    • Release date:Standard since first iPhone, so since June 29 2007


    NB: I am using Safari Download Manger off of Cydia. This is not included with Safari so I am not including it in this review. Just pretend it's not even there in the pictures


    Safari is the native internet browser, that each and every iDevice has come with, since the first generation iPhones/ iPod Touches. It was ported from Apples Safari, for Mac and Windows. To many, it is there first choice for web browsing, as it is pre-installed, and easy to use. Just pick it up and go.

    Features:
    Safari offers the user many features:
    • Tabs - Up to 8 pages
    • The ability to easily add, and store Bookmarks - You can save them to your SpringBoard
    • The ability to view in Portrait, and Landscape
    • Easy navigation, pinch to increase/decrease size of page
    • Save web images to the Camera Roll
    • The ability to choose your own search engine
    User Interface:
    From start up, we are greeted with the Bookmarks menu, where we can select a Bookmark, to we can press Done and staright browsing.

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    Safari allows for navigation in both, Portrait, and Landscape, and has the toolbar at the bottom displayed at all times for convenient access. The Toolbar has back and forward navigation of pages, an Add button, which we can Add a Bookmark, add a Bookmark to the homescreen as a SpringBoard Icon, or Email option where you can send the page to a friend. There is also a bookmarks folder, where you can view history, bookmarks, and put your Bookmarks into organised Folders, and the Tabs Page, where you can have up to 8 tabs open.

    Navigating Web Pages:

    Navigation of webpages on Safari is a fairly easy task to do. Swipe your finger to scroll up and down the page, and pinch to zoom pages. You can navigate back and forward of pages easily, via the two buttons on the bottom toolbar.
    In the navigation menu, when you type, it searches through your history, and gives you suggestions and what you are looking for. This is very convenient, as it saves typing out longer URL's. Navigation Menu disappears as you scroll down the page, leaving you with the standard Apple bar, so you can see more of the page.

    Bookmarks:

    If you are like me, you have heaps of bookmarks, and use them all the time to get to your favourite pages, and sites. Safari has a very easy, and civilised way of doing so. Simply press the Bookmarks button, and we are brought to the Bookmarks page. Here you can move your finger up and down, to navigate. Pressing the edit button gives you the option of rearranging the order of the bookmarks, and putting them into Folders (Ie. iPod Touch things in one folder, gaming in another, etc.)You can also press History, where you can view, and clear your History.
    Bookmarks are added, by pressing the '+' icon in the toolbar.

    Tabs:

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    Obviously for any modern browser, Tabs is a must have feature. Safari has done it perfectly. Safari enables you to have up to 8 tabs, however, you can have up to infinity with a mod off of Cydia. Navigation of Tabs is done by swiping your finger left and right, to choose a page. You can then tap it, to open. On the bottom, like on the SpringBoard, are dots, representing the number of pages. Creating a new tab is simple. Just press New Page in the bottom left, and it does its magic for you. Closing tabs is simple as well. Press the red 'X', at the top left corner of each page, to close.

    Settings:

    If you want to change any of the settings of Safari, you must exit, and go into the Settings App, where you will find a host of options to change, such as Search Engine, and whether you want it to block Pop-Ups or not.

    Pros:

    • Being the built in Browser, it is very easy to pick up and go, so this appeals to me.
    • Easy navigation of webpages.
    • Tool bars at bottom of page is convenient.
    • Navigation menu at top of page disappears as you scroll down
    • Can play HTML5.
    • Doesn't take up a lot of memory

    Cons:
    • No full screen option
    • The majority of settings are out of the app, so it can be a wee bit of a pain to change something if you ever need to
    • Limit to 8 tabs

    Overall Scoring:
    • Simpleness: Very easy to pick up and use 4.5/5
    • User Interface: Very simple to understand and use by someone who is new to it 5/5
    • Tabs: Safari has done this superbly. Tabs are very easy to use and follow, however, it is disappointing there is a limit of 8 tabs 4/5
    • Navigation:Easy to navigate pages, text is a readable size 4/5
    • Bookmarks: Presented with Bookmarks at start up, very easy to use and follow 4/5
    • Overall: 21.5/25 (86%)

    Conclusion:


    Safari is a very good browser, for any user. It is simple to pick up and use, and is not elaborate or over complicated. Here, less, is more. Apple have done very well one this masterpiece.


    Opera Mini

    Next up, is Opera Mini. Opera Mini was released to the App Store on May 11, 2010, and is marketed as being "the fastest browsing experience available for your phone". The interface is quite different from that of Safari, but it is more visually appealing to the eye.

    Features:
    • In Built Settings
    • Option to go Full Screen
    • Unlimited Tabs
    • Bookmarks
    • Save images to camera roll
    • More visually appealing
    • Can view it Portrait or Landscape. You can even turn your iDevice upside down!
    • Quick search words on page

    User Interface:


    The user interface for Opera Mini is drastically different than that of Safari. From start up, we are greeted with the home page. Get used to this, as whenever you want a new page/tab open, this is what you will see

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    Navigating Web Pages:

    As with Opera's lightning fast loading, it doesn't fully load everything, which is good, but bad. It means text is teeny tiny microscopic, until you tap, and it zoom in. On the subject on that, there is no pinch to zoom. Just tap, and it will automagically zoom in. You don't need to pinch. However... You cannot set the level of zoom that you want it to magnify too... This can be a pain too some, but joyous to others..

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    Why so serious? xD

    Tabs:


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    Unlike Safari's Tabs, you can have an unlimited number of pages open at any time. In saying that, just because you can doesn't mean you should. Opera's tabs are set out in a funny way. THey don't cover the full screen, however, it is hard to navigate between them. To do so, slide your finger across the screen, or tap one of the icons. When you have 10+ tabs, it gets preety crazy to navigate. To close a page, press the red X in the top right corner.

    Bookmarks:

    Bookmarks are incorporated beautifully into Opera Mini, in two ways. The first, is from the very first page you open up. This is where you view your favourite, you most used web pages. Might be a good idea to just put Multi-Touch Fans down in there

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    To get to Bookmarks, press the Tools button, then tap Bookmarks. You will then be presented with your bookmarks. Like Safari, you can have bookmark folders too. Opera has already made a default one, self labelled Opera. How nice of them.

    Tools:

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    Unlike Safari, Opera has a whole range of tools, that you can use to help you browse the web. All of them should be self explanatory, however, saved pages, takes a snap shot of your current page for later.

    Settings:

    Unlike Safari, the settings for Opera Mini is built into the App. To get into them, tap the settings button, then press Settings. In settings, we have quite a few options, which are quite handy. There is; Load images, image quality, font size, mobile view, full screen, Opera Link, Privacy and Advanced.

    Pros:
    • Nice, different User Interface
    • Fairly easy to pick up and use
    • Just as it says on the tin, it's fast.
    • Unlimited tabs
    • Full screen view!
    • Tools button is very convenient
    • Lots of freedom
    Cons:
    • Tabs can be a hassle to navigate when you have quite a few pages
    • Tiny microscopic text when zoomed out
    • Can't control how much you want it to zoom in

    Overall Scoring:
    • Simpleness: For a new user, it might be a bit difficult to use straight away, if they have used Safari in the past. However, in no time they should pick it up. 4/5
    • User Interface:In comparison to Safari, the interface is very unique. I personally quite like how everything you need is right there. However, to others it may be confusing 3.5/5
    • Tabs:While it has unlimited tabs, it gets quite crazy to navigate once you go over about 6 tabs 3.5/5
    • Navigation:Navigation can be a pain sometimes, due to the small size of text, and the ability to not control the zoom is a let down 3/5
    • Bookmarks:This is very well done. I like the way they have done it a lot 5/5
    • Overall: 19/25 (76%)

    Conclusion:

    Opera Mini is certainly a very different browser, than Safari. In some areas it excels, however, in other it doesn't perform to it's full potential. If you are an iPhone user, and use 3G, then this browser would be a good choice for you, due to it's speed. However, it would be good for the everyday user as well.


    Firefox Home


    Last, but not least, is Firefox Home. This App was released on the 16th of July, 2010. The main purpose of this, was so that you can pick up your internet form where you left off on your main home computer, and view it on your iDevice. Firefox Home requires you to be using Firefox, and it requires you to make a Sync Account, which only takes a couple of minutes.

    Features:
    • Pick up from where you left off on your home computer
    • Tabs - kinda
    • Your Firefox bookmarks
    • Search, and the Standard Firefox Awesome Bar, where you can search Tabs, Bookmarks and History.
    • View in Portrait or Landscape.

    User Interface:


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    Firefox Home is fairly easy to use. It looks quite nice and simple, which is exactly what it is. Simple. Here, you can choose from Tabs, bookmarks, search, and Settings.

    Navigation:

    Navigation of web pages is exactly the same as Safari. Swipe to move the page up and down, and Zoom in and out to view. You can control how much you zoom in. Unfortunately, you cannot save any images.

    Tabs:

    With Tabs in Firefox Home, they are your Tabs from your last browsing session on Firefox from your Home Computer. You can't add any more, or delete any. Simple as that

    Bookmarks:

    Bookmarks are your bookmarks from your home computer. I think this is a great feature, as you can view what you already have saved on your home computer straight away. It would probably be a good idea saving Google as one of your favourites in Firefox, just so you can navigate other pages...

    Settings:

    Firefox Home doesn't really have any settings, other than Logout, About, and the number of bookmarks and tabs you have. Nothing else in it.

    Pros:
    • Simple to use
    • Don't need to set it up (Add bookmarks etc) Imports all data from Firefox
    • Easy navigation of pages

    Cons:
    • Almost too simple
    • Can't add or remove Bookmarks or Tabs
    • Can't save images
    • Can't view other pages (You have to use Google to get to them)
    • If you don't use Firefox, you can't use it

    Overall Scoring:
    • Simpleness: Very simple to use and pick up. All self explanatory 5/5
    • User Interface:simple to use and operate, although it doesn't offer much 4/5
    • Tabs:Tabs are a joke, just your previous Firefox tabs, that you can't close, or create new ones 2/5
    • Navigating:Fairly easy to do, but you can't safe images 3/5
    • Bookmarks:Your Firefox Bookmarks. Can't add any new ones. 3/5
    • Overall: 17/25 (68%)

    Conclusion:

    I'll admit, Firefox home could be very useful for someone that uses Firefox, and want to continue using it on there mobile device from where they left, but to others, it can be annoying. You either love it or you hate it. Hopefully soon you can fully unlock it's full potential as a browser...

    Mercury​


    • Price:Free from the App Store, although to get all features you can buy Mercury Pro for $0.99 USD
    • Release Date:10 March 2010
    • Click me for link!

    Mercury Web Browser is next up. Mercury is described "as the best replacement for Safari", and they are nearly spot on. So many things are done right in Mercury.

    Features:
    • Pick it up and go straight away
    • Tabs - Up to 6
    • Full screen mode instantly
    • Pinch to zoom - You can control the level of zoom
    • Bookmarks
    • Can view in portrait or Landscape
    • Has a built in Download Manager

    User Interface:

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    The User Interface is quite simple to pick up and use, by anyone. From the very beginning, you are greeted with there simple Interface, and the keyboard, so you can start viewing the Web immediately.

    Navigation of Web Pages:

    Navigation of web pages is very easy to do on Mercury. Just like Safari, pinch to increase the size of the page, and you can control the size of the text as well. You can't save images to the Camera Roll, which is disappointing. However, what is handy is when you click on a link, instead of a navigation bar taking up the page, there is a little box that had a progress bar and a Stop Button, which I like. If you want to view other tabs/go to a different web page, tap on the Green arrow in the Tap Right. Tap on the page to remove the navigation Menu.

    Tabs:

    Tabs are done in the navigation bar, which is hidden until you tap on the Green Arrow. Unfortunately, you can only get six tabs. To Add a tab, tap the '+', and to remove, tap the 'X'. Unfortunately, sometimes your finger slips and you tap the X instead of +, so it deletes one of your tabs, or the other way round.

    Bookmarks:

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    To get to the Bookmarks, tap on Tools. This brings you to Bookmarks as the First option. Bookmarks are presented like on your Springboard, as little icons. Tap one to go to that page. Unfortunately, you can only view it in Portrait. To add a Bookmark, tap on the Add button, then press Add Bookmark. You will then get a menu, once again in Portrait, where it saves the Picture of the Website (Not sure of Name, but Multi-Touch Fans is the Home Button. Here, you can change the name of it as well.

    Tools:

    Like Opera Mini, Mercury has a tools menu. In the tools menu, is Bookmarks, History, Downloads, and Settings. As this is also tools, tap the Add button. This gives you the Option to; Add Bookmark, Save Page, Set Page as Homepage, Mail Link the page, and use Lock Rotation. For those who aren't Jailbroken, Lock Rotation is a convenient feature for when browsing in bed, or on a couch. They know how you feel

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    Settings:

    There isn't a lot in settings, but they do have some handy features. There is a Startup Screen Option, where you can choose whether you want Saved Tabs, Homepage, or Bookmarks. There is a Private Browsing Option, where you can choose if you want it to save History/Cookies for that session. There is an Enable Compression Option, and Remember History Option. You can also Clear your History/Cookies

    Pros:
    • Full Screen browsing all the time
    • Easily see all your tabs
    • Download Manager
    • Bookmarks is presented well
    • Lock Rotation
    • Easy Interface

    Cons:

    • There is the little globe at the bottom right of the screen. Tapping it just takes you to an Ad for there paid version.
    • Only 6 Tabs
    • Can only view bookmarks/settings in Portrait

    Overall Scoring:

    • Simpleness:Very easy to use and understand 5/5
    • User Interface:Very easy to use, has many features 4/5
    • Tabs:Only has 6 tabs, but they are done well 3.5/5
    • Bookmarks:Looks really good. Slight annoyance that it is only in Portrait but that isn't much of a pain 4/5
    • Navigating:Navigating is really easy on this. Just pick it up and go 5/5
    • Overall: 21.5/25 (86%)

    Conclusion:

    Mercury is set out to be the replacement to Safari, and I honestly think they could be right. This is done superbly. If you are looking for a new browser, this is a fine choice. It is a pain that there is only 6 tabs, but you can work around that. I would love to see what the paid version is like. Hopefully I can review it soon.
    Finishing Words:

    Well, hopefully this guide has made your decision to choosing a browser for your iDevice a little simpler.
    Thanks!
    ~Huston

    If you see spelling/grammar mistakes, tell me so I can fix them!

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  2. pyromatic

    pyromatic New Member

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    Good guide should be stickied

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  3. iBricked

    iBricked Well-Known Member

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    Sticky should be this
  4. Ouchy_S

    Ouchy_S Member

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    Thanks guys

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    I'm only allowed 10 images, do you think it would be better to have less of Safari?
  5. JakeMan

    JakeMan Member

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    Yea, I think everyone has used it

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    But otherwise very nice guide, I'm now considering changing my browser to something else.
  6. Ouchy_S

    Ouchy_S Member

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    Alright, thanks for the input

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    That's good, the purpose of my guide was a success then

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  7. _JKK_

    _JKK_ Super Moderator Staff Member

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    You should have reserved the second post, for future use.

    Clean up some of the grammar, and ill sticky it.
  8. Ouchy_S

    Ouchy_S Member

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    Yeah, I though about that just after I got the second comment.

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    Sweet, will do

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  9. DWY

    DWY Member

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    I want mercury now!

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    And that says a lot because I usually don't even try an app that attempts to replace one of apple's stock apps.
  10. Ouchy_S

    Ouchy_S Member

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    Yeah, I was quite surprised as well.

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