Version Reviewed: 1.0
Reviewed on: iPad
iPad Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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When the iPhone launched, Apple's Safari browser ushered in a new era of mobile browser sophistication. Since then, Apple has begun allowing third party browsers into the App Store, including the much publicized Opera Mini. The PERFECT Web Browser recently found its way up the paid US charts by adding desktop level sophistication to Mobile Safari. The app brought tabs, user agent switching, and more. A new app, It's About Time's Life Browser, is designed from the ground up for the iPad. It's not an attempt to mimic the features of a desktop browser like Firefox but instead tries to add new twists that take advantage of the iPad's unique features.
Life eliminates the concept of tabs entirely and operates with a swiping mechanism similar to Cover Flow. It's easy to move from page to page by swiping back and forth, but Life isn't great for lots of tabs. Life seems designed instead for an experience with your favorite websites or aggregators. The queue feature, my favorite, makes it easier to load up lots of websites and to read them without reloading. The Life Browser is seemingly made for pages with lists of articles like CNN or Reddit. Tapping the "Q" button makes every link you tap queue up below the current page. Users then can page up and down between these pages, each of which load in the background while the current page is being read. This makes it perfect to skip from article to article without the load times present in Mobile Safari.
[caption id="attachment_39698" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Life Browser with Queued Articles Below"]
There's an "awesome" bar like Firefox's that includes search and suggestions. Multitouch also is utilized well here, with three fingers paging back and forward through windows. The site operates with a favorites screen as well for easy access to frequently visited websites.
The Life Browser is an interesting change from Mobile Safari and makes it easier to browse aggregators and sites with lots of links. The app includes UI changes that haven't been seen before in browsers on the iPad. It is, however, a niche product as many of these iPad browsers are. Apple doesn't allow you to change the default browser, making it hard to get hooked on Life as a permanent browser. That's too bad, as it might even deserve a spot there.