This past week, Apple let through another genre of apps that were previously off limits to the App Store: Web Browsers. While the majority of them are either one trick ponies or serve a more specific purpose (hiding your surfing tracks in Incognito), I had a chance to test out iBlueAngel, a web browsing app that attempts to rise above the competition. It is easily the most fully featured of its kind at the moment, with features that include copy and paste, tabbed browsing and even the ability to save current pages for offline viewing.
iBlueAngel’s main browsing features are located at the bottom black toolbar. Here you will find your typical buttons such as Forward, Back, Home and Stop (group of four to the right). On the left side, these are your controls for tabbed browsing . Unlike mobile Safari, you are able to slide back and forth between tabs by simply hitting the |<< and >>| buttons, thus making it faster and more intuitive to go from one page to another. ‘+’ will create a new tab and the trash icon will essentially close the current tab. You can even have up to 12 tabs open at the same time, giving users 2 more to play with compared to Safari.
To access iBlueAngel’s other feature sets, tapping on the magic wand icon found at the top left will open up a menu box. Here users can:
- Copy and paste
- Save pages for offline viewing
- Set bookmarks
- View history
- Export a portion of webpage to camera roll
- Email the selected text along with URL of the page to any email address
Copy & Paste:
This is probably one of the features that will be of most interest to users, considering how so many people have complained about not being able to copy & paste on the iPhone/iPod Touch. While this funcionality is available via this browser, it is not exactly a full blown copy & paste, as you can basically only copy blocks of text (as opposed to being able to select any part of the text). Still, this is definitely a nice start. The process is fairly simple:
- Open magic menu by tapping on the wand icon
- Tap on the ‘Select’ button (arrow inside dotted green square)
- Tap any block of text on the web page. It will now be highlighted blue
- Tap the ‘Paste’ icon from magic menu and your text will now appear at its desired spot
In addition, once you have copied some text, selecting the envelop icon will open up the Mail app and allow you to send it to anyone via email. The url of the site will also make its way into the email, which can be quite useful. Since switching between tabs is easily done via a single button, its pretty simple and quick to copy and paste text from one source to another.
Another potentially useful feature is the ability to save webpages for offline viewing. To do this, select the floppy disk icon on the desired webpage and tap the ‘+’ button. Choose a name for this ‘file’, and the page contents will be downloaded onto your iPhone/Touch. To view the page again at a later time (when data connection is not available), tap on the disk icon again and select the name of the file you had previously saved. It should be noted that from my tests, only text from the site gets saved, so don’t expect to view the webpage in its entirety via this method. If this feature is really important to you, check out Instapaper Free, which does essentially the same thing, but better.
So after all is said and done, how does it perform? From what I have seen thus far, I must say surprisingly well. Webpages load quickly for the most part, and certain sites even loaded faster than Mobile Safari. Switching between tabs is snappy, thanks to the foward and back tab buttons. Stability wasn’t much of an issue, as I experienced only one crash in 2 days of constant use. Obviously, having the ability to copy and paste is a huge bonus, even if its only for blocks of text in this release.
iBlueAngel – Magic Web Browser may not be perfect, but its one of the most robust alternatives to Safari at this point in time. Who knows, perhaps with future improvements and updates, more and more users may very well leave Safari behind if Apple doesn’t eventually implement new features of its own.
- Navigate between tabs quickly
- Copy and Paste
- Bookmarking with folders
- Save sites to device for offline viewing
- Input text box can accept urls or keywords to be searched via google
- Can only copy blocks of text
- Scrolling through webpages with lots of images can feel laggy and choppy
- No visual indication on which tab you are currently viewing.
- No landscape viewing
Available now at $4.99