By Werner Ruotsalainen on Sun, 10/10/2010
Since my last, dedicated post, the following important events have happened:
1.) a brand new iPhone / iPod Touch-only Web browser, 360 Browser has been released. It has some unique features not present in any other current iOS browser, not even the best one (iCab Mobile): if you double-tap any of the tabs, you'll be presented a context menu also containing "close all other tabs" and "bookmark all tabs" items – just like on a decent desktop browser. With these, mass operations with several open tabs become much faster than in other iOS Web browsers. A screenshot:
Unfortunately, that's the only advantage of the browser over iCab Mobile, the currently best Web browser: in all other respects, it's definitely worse. For example, there isn't any way of quickly scrolling to the top or the bottom of a Web page and this can't be helped with my scriptlets either (they aren't supported at all), which is a huge omission. That is, for the time being, I don't recommend it at the moment.
2.) There has been a major version jump in the, without doubt, best iOS Web browser, iCab Mobile: to 4.0. This also means it has recently received a lot of goodies. For example, a long-awaited new feature, Google Suggest and Yahoo's similar service has been introduced, which, so far, has been supported by very few iOS Web browsers. Safari has always supported both and, with either 4.1 or the early 4.2betas, Bing has been added. Note that this only works on the iPad – but not on the smaller-screen little brothers. An example screenshot showing Google Suggest in action:
(click the image for a much bigger version!)
In-page search has been improved; now, it's WAAAY better than both the newly introduced, built-in searching in iOS 4.2 and my last scriptlet. These both “only” support “Next” (and the scriptlet version needs several taps to move to the next occurrence), unlike iCab's new search module. A screenshot showing searching for the word 'life' on iPhone Life's main page:
A quick note: while Safari's built-in search engine is, because of the lack of “Previous” functionality, considerably worse than that of iCab, with some (very few) pages it should be the one to use. An example is the discussion forum of Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, where iCab Mobile just stops moving to the next (or previous) hit and can only be used to highlight them. Two screenshots:
Note that this problem pertains to all iOS Web browsers (including my scriptlet) as they all seem to use the same scriptlet-based search engine. If you also run into this problem, just invoke Safari with the current Web page address and do the searching there. In iCab, it's + > Open in 'Safari'; that is, you don't even have to copy/paste the URL. And, of course, you'll need to upgrade to iOS 4.2 on your iOS device, which rules out first-generation iPhones and iPod Touch devices, unfortunately.
In addition, a lot of other features (for example, Dropbox and limited file upload) are supported.
3.) Atomic Browser (as of 3.7) has always received some welcome additions; for example, bookmark export/import so that you can easily save/redeploy them. Aarde Web Browser (as of 1.6) has switched to a Universal version (from the iPad-only one) meaning it will also run on iPhones and iPod Touches. It also received Dropbox support, which is also great news.
Main chart heavily updated
I've heavily updated the main Web browser comparison & feature chart to reflect the changes, including a brand new column dedicated to 360 Browser. The chart has two brand new rows; one of them (“Google etc. suggestions?”) elaborates on how Google / Yahoo / Bing dynamic suggestions are supported; the other one (“VGA output?”) shows whether the browser supports VGA output on fourth-generation small-screen devices and the iPad. As you can see, iCab does (along with some other titles – Safari, of course, not) on both major platforms.