While Mobile Safari has steadily improved with time, particularly on the iPad, there are several other free options available that bring additional features to the table. Depending on how and when you want to use your iPad to browse the Internet, this list of four browsers will make it easier to make your selection.
From private browsing to adjustable brightness, from full screens to social media integration, the available features are endless. There’s no reason you have to stick with the native browser the iPad ships with, when there are plenty of great, free alternatives.
Who’s going to use LastPass Tab [iTunes link]? LastPass users and anyone who gets tired of logging into their accounts on their iPad.
The main reason you’d switch from Safari to LastPass Tab is for a secure way to easily log into all of your accounts. If you already use LastPass on your computer, you’ll know that the password storing service makes it easy to store and fill in your log-in details. Just click on the LastPass logo at the top right hand corner to log in.
Other than secure log-ins, you get quite a few other features that are lacking from Safari. LastPass Tab allows for authentic tabbed browsing as opposed to Safari’s multiple windows.
With LastPass Tab’s settings, you can block images and automatically open links to different domains in new tabs.
LastPass Tab uses Safari’s webkit, but setting the user agent allows you to access sites as though you were using iPad Safari Mobile, Safari 4.0, Firefox 3.6, Chrome 6.0 or Internet Explorer 8.0 – essentially making it seem to the website that you are using any given browser.
What are you going to lose if you choose to use LastPass Tab? Surprisingly enough there is no way to bookmark sites on LastPass, and you can’t search for specific text on any given page.
Terra Web Browser
Who’s going to use Terra Web Browser [iTunes link]? Anyone who’s looking for a browser with an easy way to launch into incognito and full screen mode (for whatever reason that may be).
Switching into incognito mode can be done through the app’s settings.
Toggling full screen mode is done by pressing the button next to the settings button.
In full screen mode, Terra allows you to take full advantage of the iPad’s gorgeous screen.
With Terra, you can also add the page you are browsing to your bookmarks, save pages for offline viewing, find text on the page, mail the link or open it in Safari. To save a page for offline viewing, select ‘Save page as file.’ The saved page can later be accessed under your bookmarks.
Along with offline browsing, you also get tabbed browsing.
Long pressing links gives you the option to open them in a new or background tab.
In addition, you can also password protect the use of Terra and select iPad Safari Mobile, OS X Safari 5, Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox 3.6 as your user agent.
Who’s going to use Night Browser [iTunes link]? If you’re burning the midnight oil, but don’t want your iPad screen to disturb anyone around you, the dimmed Night Browser is the perfect option.
You can easily adjust the brightness of the screen directly within the app.
Aside from the dimmed screen, Night Browser takes a page from Safari, and rather than using tabbed browsing, additional pages are opened in new windows.
You’ll also get bookmarks and a Google search bar next to the address bar, but other than that, Night Browser doesn’t offer much in the way of features.
What’s missing? You can’t search for text on the page you are browsing, or open links in a new window.
Atomic Browser Lite
Who’s going to use Atomic Browser Lite [iTunes link]? This browser is ideal for the social media addict with easy Facebook and Twitter integration, and for anyone who’s serious about their Internet browsing. For a lite version, the app is jam-packed with features.
To share the page you are browsing on Facebook, Twitter or via email, bookmark it or open it in Safari, click the bookmark icon in the menu.
Other settings you can adjust when using Atomic Browser include toggling private mode on and off, locking the screen’s rotation, increasing and decreasing the font size, and hiding the tab bar.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with Atomic’s settings. You have extensive control over privacy settings, full screen options, colour themes and more.
Another great feature is the ability to search using a variety of search engines, with eBay, Google and Bing among the options. To select, use the search bar next to the address bar, which also allows you to search for text within the page you’re browsing.
Atomic Web Browser is also iPhone/iPod Touch compatible.
What’s your preferred free iPad browser? Let us know in the comments.