When the iPad came out Steve Jobs proclaimed that it would provide a desktop class web browsing experience sans Flash because of Apple’s dislike for the platform. Unfortunately, Adobe Flash was not the only omission as the Safari browser did not even have support for tabbed browsing. While Safari provides a very dependable browsing experience, it just cannot match a full-fledged desktop browser. However, one can find many paid remedies for this issue on the app store and we believe the iCab browser should be on the top of your list.
While it does not solve the Flash problem, it does provide a set of features which puts most desktop browsers to shame.
As with the Safari on the iOS, iCab also works on the Webkit engine but with a difference. While the mobile Safari on the iPad is an up-scaled version of the iPhone variant, iCab for iPad is a downscaled variant of the desktop iCab for Mac. The iCab borrows a lot from Safari UI design-wise but also adds a pane for tabs just like the desktop Safari. It also adds a pane for bookmarks, download manager, full screen mode, social network syncing and settings.
Indeed, the iCab browser offers a truckload of functionality and fills in the gaps that Mr Jobs would have done well to have been more circumspect about. We believe iCab is superior to Safari just on the basis of its hefty feature set, but, boy, it works well. Obviously, tabbed browsing is a big draw and in iCab it has been implemented very well. Thanks to the latest update, we can swipe tabs on tabs pane to quickly check out the various tabs. We can also swipe horizontally to flip between various tabs.
It supports the standard pinch zoom and scrolling gestures, but it does not stop here as once we started exploring the settings menu we could actually customize gestures with support for three and four finger swipes and so on.
The inbuilt download manager allows users to choose an app with which to open the downloaded file rather than opening it in the default iOS folders.
iCab also has inbuilt Dropbox support which is a neat feature for cloud storage aficionados.
Apart from these features iCab also has a private browsing mode which blocks images, in the process speeding up the browsing experience.
Other additions include an inbuilt password manager and inbuilt buttons for posting links to Facebook, Twitter and Instapaper.
Lastly, we also get a standard search box, which can be customized to produce search results from Google, Wikipedia, Bing and Yahoo.
The iCab browser is the most comprehensive web browsing experience one can get on the iOS. In truth, most of these features such as tabbed browsing should have been available from the beginning in Safari. Most of the additional features will only make geeks drool rather than attract the fancy of your neighborhood iPad user.
At $1.99 one feels a bit aggrieved paying for a web browser which still does not support Flash but, then again, it is the best at what it does!
Available on: iOS
Usability – 4.5
Price – 2.5
Wow factor – 4