With so many third-party web browsers available for the iPhone and iPad – including Atomic Web, iChromy, Opera Mini, iSwifter, and Dual Browser – one has to wonder what any enterprising developer could possibly come up with that would be unique.
Anyone who has used the iOS version of Safari can clearly see its limitations – its lack of hand gesturing features, traditional tab windows, and no sidebar navigation – just to name a few. But the mobile technology developer company, MoboTab, has produced an iOS and Android web browser called Dolphin, with a few playful, smart features for browsing and launching websites.
The most unique feature of Dolphin is gesture navigation. With this browser you can navigate to a site by simply drawing a predefined letter or symbol. For example, you can draw the capital letter, “T” for Twitter or “G” for Google. You can of course add and edit symbols and corresponding addresses.
This feature saves you the trouble of having to type out URLs or open a bookmark panel in order to launch your favorite sites. However, the downside to this feature is that you must tap the Gesture button in order to draw a symbol. It would be better if you could simply tap anywhere on the screen and bring up the gesture window. Or to save an extra tap, perhaps holding your finger in one spot for a second and then drawing a symbol.
Unlike Safari, Dolphin also includes a three finger gesture navigation for revealing a Bookmarks panel on the left side, and a Tab Bar on the right. These two features alone make browser navigation easier and faster than reaching up and tapping the Bookmarks button, as you must do in Safari.
There are also drawing symbols for quickly navigating to the bottom or the top of a webpage; but again, it takes one too many taps to open the Gesture window and draw the symbols.
Other hand gestures include multi-touch zooming for enlarging text, and double tapping to zoom in and out on an area of the page.
Speed Dial & Webzine
Dolphin also has the now familiar Speed Dial feature found in most web browsers. However, MoboTab chose not to use small thumbnail webpage images for its Speed Dial. Instead he chose to do this for what it calls Webzines.
Webzines consist of hundreds of preselected websites including CNN Business, MSN Money, Fast Company, and various Yahoo sites. There are also categories of Webzine websites, such as entertainment, family and education, fashion, news, politics, Top Twitter, and travel.
Adding and tapping on a Webzine presents five sliding pages of preview articles, featuring the headlines and first paragraphs of articles for the selected site.
Interestingly when you tap open some pages in Webzine mode, you don’t get the full story. You mainly get what it’s on a single page, minus ads and other distracting content. Unfortunately, there is no way to navigate to the original page of a story in Webzine mode.
So it seems as though Webzines are mainly previews of some articles rather than the entire content of articles.
The sharing features of Dolphin are limited to Facebook and Twitter. Webpages and stories can be shared from both Dolphin’s regular browser and Webzine mode content. You can also type in a short note before sharing. No doubt in forthcoming updates of Dolphin, users will be able to share articles via email, on Instapaper and other bookmarking services.
Despite some limitations to Dolphin, the mobile web browser does include other useful features like Private Mode, bookmark importing from your default web browser, single page web searching, and the ability to clear all data storage including browsing history, cookies, and form data. You can also press and hold on links to open them in a new tab, copy them, and many other things.
Dolphin doesn’t quite outshine more advanced mobile web browsers like Atomic Web or Opera Mini, but its unique approach to hand gesturing has already garnished over nine million downloads of the application. Versions of Dolphin are optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
Let us know what you think of Dolphin. Is it already included in your folder alongside other third-party mobile web browsers? As for other web browser recommendations for the iPad, check out this article.