No matter how many times Apple update the mobile Safari and the Mail app, they’re still boring. There aren’t too many choices for Mail, but there are many alternative browsers to Safari. They all have their one or two extra functions that separate them from one another, but Dolphin Browser seems to have a lot going for it, making it a very worthwhile free download.
I fall in love with a new browser, be it for iOS or OS X, at least once a year. Sometimes I use other browsers because they’re functional, but sometimes it’s a complete love affair. I get bored with the functioning Safari in iOS. It’s not fun, just functional. The Dolphin Browser is the first browser I’ve found in awhile that is just flat out fun. And it’s free. There aren’t many things in life that are both fun and free.
The default page for the Dolphin Browser includes a “speed dial” and “webzine.” A browser like Safari is built for browsing Google. That’s what it’s really good at. But we’re way past looking at the Internet just as a tool for gathering information. We spend our lives on a browser. Dolphin recognizes that. While the Speed Dial to the left of the default page includes favorite links, the most favorite of your favorites, it also includes a “Webzine.” It takes Facebook, Twitter, and newsy sites such as USA Today and Mac Rumors and places the most recent stories in capsules in your webzine so that you can quickly browse the latest news of the things that interest you the most. You can edit the webzine to include only the sites you want to keep up with.
Opening a Webzine capsule presents the articles in an easy-to-read format that can be flipped through. Clicking on a story brings it up in a text only format. Sometimes the text doesn’t completely come forward here, but that’s okay, as a link is included to read the rest, and you can also hit an arrow above the story to call up the story that way as well. Dolphin certainly isn’t the first browser to offer text only versions of articles, even Safari does this, but it’s the first browser I have found to place it in such an easy-to-use format that encompasses all the news you would want to read.
Dolphin syncs favorites as well, like many other browsers. I loaded it on my iPhone as well as my iPad so that I could keep my favorites synced throughout. I do wish it would also sync the Webzine and Speed Dial, though. Even better would be syncing the history.
The Dolphin Browser also makes full use of gestures. Instead of seeming like something that was added in as an afterthought, the browser is built around using gestures. Starting Dolphin for the first time, it shows you gestures that you can use right away, such as sliding from the left edge gives you your list of favorites, favorites that go beyond Speed Dial, and sliding from the left gives you an easy view of all your open tabs.
But the gestures go way beyond that. There’s a gesture button in the menu at the top. Clicking this gives you more than just the standard simple universal gestures. A V-shape takes you to the bottom of the page. An upside-down V-shape takes you to the top of the page. A G takes you to Google. A 2 takes you to Amazon. You don’t have to rely on pre-programmed gestures. You can create your own in settings. I did this for my most-used favorites. I used an M for Make Tech Easier. I used an F without the middle “bar” for Facebook, and used an R for my Reality Shack site. You can create your own gestures for actions, as well as sites. The possibilities are infinite.
It seems the Dolphin Browser is made for a large aspect of the iOS. It’s meant for a touchscreen with its use of gestures and the browsing aspect of the webzine. The only thing that isn’t well-represented is pictures. This is a word browser. It features pictures just as well as Safari, but it doesn’t go out of its way to make the best of them like an iPad should. However, it’s still the go-to for me to replace Safari, that is until Safari makes adequate changes to convince me to switch back again.