We're on to Day 2 of our Battle of the iPad Browsers. Yesterday we took a look at the Safari and Atomic web browsers - today will see a match between two of my favorite iPad browsers - Dolphin and iCabMobile. As with yesterday, the criteria I'll be using are:
- Bookmarks Bar
- Sharing Capabilities
- Private Browsing
- Synchronization of Bookmarks and Settings
- Other Cool Features
Speed: I started using the Dolphin browser a few months ago, and the first thing I noticed about it was its speed - it's really lightning-fast on my iPad. Although we have to assume Safari will be fast because it's baked-in to the iPad, I still think Dolphin is faster. Score = 10.
Bookmarks Bar: I'm not sure how to score this one. Dolphin does not have the same bookmarks bar as Safari, Atomic, or iCabMobile. However, it does have a "Speed Dial" on its Home screen, which you can set up with 8-10 favorite sites. I would prefer my bookmarks be on the main browsing screen, so I don't have to keep going back to the Home Screen to get to my favorites. Score = 7.
Customization: With a few notable exceptions (see Cool Features, below), the Settings in Dolphin are comparable to Safari - not very extensive. In fact, the Dolphin settings menu is almost identical to the Safari settings menu, and leaves a lot to be desired. Score = 3.
Sharing: Dolphin also has very few sharing options, just like Safari, There's a Share Page option, but you can only share with two services: Facebook and Twitter. You can also share a link by email. Score = 3.
Search: Dolphin offers four search options: Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Wikipedia. The address bar also serves as your search box, which is nice. But compared to Atomic, the options here are below average. Score = 4.
Private Browsing: To browse without tracks, you can enable Private Mode in Settings. You cannot save passwords or restore tabs in Private Mode. Score = 10.
Synchronization: With the Dolphin Connect service, you can sync your bookmarks between the iPad and the Chrome browser on the desktop (this only works with Chrome right now). Score = 8
Cool Features: Yesterday, I gave Atomic an 8 in this category because of all the options it offers. I'm going to give the same score to Dolphin today, even though it doesn't offer quite as many options. But there are a couple of interesting features worth mentioning. The first is the Home Screen, which is divided into two areas: Speed Dial, which offers quick access to your favorite sites, and Webzine, which creates a Flipboard-like magazine page of stories from a number of sites, including TechCrunch, National Geographic, ESPN, and more.
Another really cool feature is the ability to create gestures that help you navigate the browser. Just press the hand symbol and you'll get a touch pad where you can enter a gesture with your finger. Press the gear in the lower right to get a listing of your current gestures.
When you press the Create Gesture button from this screen, you'll see that you can automate a bunch of different actions: create a tab, close a tab, add a bookmark, search a web page, copy the page URL, and much more. Creating a gesture is easy, and is a really nice way to get around the browser. When you combine this with the Home Page, the ability to handle downloads, and other features, I'm changing my mind, and giving a higher score here. Score = 10
Total Score for Dolphin: 55 (out of 80)
I just started using iCabMobile in the past few weeks, and it has quickly become my favorite browser.
Speed: While not as fast as Dolphin or Safari, the speed is decent for a tablet browser. Score = 8.
Bookmarks Bar: iCabMobile has a bookmarks bar just below the address bar. In addition, there's a tool called Quickstarter in the bookmarks bar, which is just another fast way to get to web pages you want to save. Score = 10.
Customization: Atomic is the only serious competitor to iCabMobile in this category - the customization features are just tremendous: below is a shot of the Settings screen, with only a portion of the General Settings visible.
There are even more options in the Open In... menu in the upper-left of the browser window, making iCabMobile just about the most feature-rich browser out there right now. Score = 10.
Sharing: iCabMobile's sharing options are far and away the best of any browser I use; for me, this is what sets iCabMobile apart from the other browsers. Here are the different ways you can share, or send web pages to other services:
- Save to Amazon Wishlist
- Convert an online media clip to a downloadable format
- Clip to Evernote (my personal favorite)
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share to Google+
- Add to Instapaper
- Convert to PDF
- Open in GoodReader
- Pin on Pinterest
- Add to Pocket
- Save to Readability
- Create a shortened URL for the page
- Bookmark on Delicious
- Convert to ePub
- Bookmark on Pinboard
And I didn't even list all the options. If I could give a 20 for this category, I would. As it is, iCabMobile gets a 10 for Sharing. Score = 10.
Search: iCabMobile offers 12 search engines, which is better than Safari/Dolphin, but not quite as comprehensive as Atomic. Score = 9
Private Browsing: iCabMobile offers Private Browsing from the General Settings screen. It also provides a "Guest Mode," if you want others to use your browser without getting into your saved sites. Score = 10
Synchronization: If you use the Firefox browser, you can use the Firefox Sync extension to sync your iCabMobile bookmarks. Score = 8. (Note: for those browsers that offer synchronization, I am hesitant to give a 10 to any browser that only syncs with one desktop browser - thus, that's why so far all the apps that sync only rate an 8).
Cool Features: Like Atomic, what makes iCabMobile a cool browser is the sheer number of options; there aren't any "wow" features that I haven't already mentioned. So I'll give it the same score as Atomic. Score = 8
Total Score for iCabMobile = 73 (out of 80)
One more browser left to judge, and we'll take a look at it tomorrow - along with the final scores for all browsers in each category. Stay tuned!