Every once in a while, I’ll come across an app in my TMA inbox that stands out from the crowd – either by way of features or uniqueness. One example was GestureMatic, an app that allows you to perform various functions via user-created gestures. And most recently, I came across a 3rd party Web Browser app that’s unlike anything we’ve experienced before on the iDevice — Portal. Using a unique “Portal” button at the bottom of the screen, you tap on it to bring up a 1st gen like iPod click wheel interface, where you can then perform all the actions you’re used to on Mobile Safari…and a whole lot more.
Perhaps one of the features I love most is “Research Mode”, where you can create special profiles and keywords based on the topic you want to look up. So if you’re looking to buy a new video card for your gaming rig, just create a new research topic and add color tags to special keywords (ie GPU, GHz, RAM). Then, when browsing, anytime those keywords appear on a webpage, they’ll be highlighted by color based on your settings. You can even create “Research Bookmarks” (they’re separate from regular bookmarks) and assign a relevance rating to each one. Very very cool indeed.
Other handy features include Multiple Profiles, File Downloading, Pinpoint Find in Page and more. I’ve been using Portal now for 2 days and I can honestly say that this is one awesome (and slick) web browser. I’ve tried plenty of 3rd party apps, but for one reason or another, I’ve have always gone back to Safari. Perhaps it’s time for me to make a permanent switch over. It’s certainly heads and shoulders better than any that I’ve come across thus far. And since the interface is dramatically different from the usual suspects, there will likely be an adjustment period before you’re fully comfortable with its UI. Once you do though, there’s likely no turning back.
Check out the series of screencasts introducing Portal below.
Light Pillar, Portal – Full Screen Browser, 4.3 MB – $1.99
The ultimate full screen web browser for iPhone. We have created a browser with several fantastic new innovations to make your mobile browsing experience a true pleasure.
Our unique and intuitive user interface holds your hand whilst you are a novice user and is lightning fast to use when you are familiar with the functionality. More information on some of our innovations is listed below.
Feature List Overview:
● Innovative true full screen interface
● Designed for one handed operation
● Fantastic innovative research mode
● Specify relevance with research bookmarks
● Extensive privacy options
● Stealth profiles offer maximum privacy
● Full multiple profile support allows organisation
● Extensible list of search providers
● Download files to Portal documents folder
● AirPrint support (iOS 4.2 required)
● Comprehensive built in user guide
● Email URLs, links and images quickly
● Can specify browser identity
● Built in image viewer
True Full Screen:
During browsing only the discreet Portal button is displayed on screen. A flick of the wrist hides / shows the Portal button for true full screen mode. The Portal button gives you instant access to all our browsing features.
Our new research mode slashes the time you spend searching for details by highlighting the information you need as you browse.
Pinpoint Find In Page:
Portal’s find in page functionality will highlight all instances of your search phrase and will scroll to next and previous instances on your command, it will even highlight the location on screen with an animated crosshair to save you time.
Profiles help you organize your browsing and settings. All settings, bookmarks, research and history in Portal are stored per profile. You can create profiles for whatever you want, perhaps one for work and one for play, or perhaps use one to store your private bookmarks. Stealth profiles are never displayed so you can keep things completely secret.
You can choose the file types that are downloaded when they are encountered. By default ZIP, RAR, DMG, Torrent, ISO and EXE files are downloaded to your documents folder so you can later retrieve them using iTunes. You can add whatever MIME types you like and can quickly toggle file downloading on / off.
Providing you are set up for printing with iOS 4.2 you will be able to print web pages using the AirPrint functionality.
You can quickly email links from pages, links to the current page, images and entire research topics from Portal. If you frequently email the same address you can setup a default email address to avoid having to choose / type it each time.