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App of the Week: Atomic Web Browser [iOS]

App of the Week : Atomic Web Browser | 40Tech

Mobile Safari has it’s good points, but there are several places where it leaves a lot to be desired. There are speed issues when loading, the lack of any real multitasking (resulting in windows constantly reloading when you exit the app and return), no background tab or window loading, etc., etc., etc. To compound these issues, the last few iPad versions of Safari (including the current one) are unstable at the best of times, their regular crashes making browsing a chore.

There are several Safari alternatives for iOS, all if them trying to overcome the shortcomings of the stock iPhone and iPad browser. The best of the lot, however, considering features, usability, and price, is Atomic Web Browser.

Atomic Web Browser has been around since December of 2009 and while it has floated back and forth between $0.99 and $1.99, it has held steady at $0.99 for nearly a year. It also has a Lite version which has nearly all of the same features, but for $0.99, getting niceties like the ability to set a homepage isn’t a bad deal. Anyone who’s read my work on 40Tech before knows that’s high praise, too. It takes a lot to get me to shell out money if I don’t have to, and I’ve found it to be completely worth my while so far.

Features

It used to be that Atomic and other mobile Safari alternatives were sought after for real tabbed browsing and the ability to switch User Agents and view mobile pages as if they were served on a full-sized computer. Those are minor features these days, and Atomic has become useful for so much more. Here are the highlights (go here for the full list):

  • Load tabs in background
  • True multitasking
  • Add JavaScript as bookmarks
  • Share links on Facebook and Twitter
  • Configurable swipe and tap gestures
  • Save pages for offline viewing
  • Download manager with Dropbox, iTunes and email support
  • Import/Export bookmarks
  • Jump to top/bottom of web pages
  • Change and lock font-size for specific sites
  • Full-screen browsing with configurable buttons
  • Launch homepage, last session, or last viewed
  • Bookmarklet that sends pages to Atomic Web Browser from Safari

There are a ton of other features as well, such as setting the colour of the browser, ad block, private mode, air print, web compression (for faster browsing), search engine plugins, on-page search, view page source code, and more.

Atomic Web Browser Background Tabs Atomic Web Browser Download ManagerAtomic Web Browser Action ButtonsAtomic Web Browser Options

There are a few other browsers that compare with Atomic, the closest in both price and features being Mercury Browser, which I have been using on my iPhone for the past while. Mercury Browser is almost identical in features and has a few interesting possibilities like a library of common bookmarklets that can be installed (which is a bit buggy), a bookmarks springboard, and speed-dial-like dashboard for your favourite sites.

Mercury Browser’s extra features are great, and combine well with an interesting and pretty interface to make for fantastic browser, but I find that Atomic is easier to navigate. The Atomic Web Browser’s look and feel is more minimalist and straightforward in its approach, and for me — and more importantly, my wife — that translates into a better overall experience. Both have free and very functional Lite versions, though, so you should give them a try to see what suits you better.

Your turn:

What’s your favourite browser for iOS?

 

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About Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to bobby-travis.com.

12 Responses to App of the Week: Atomic Web Browser [iOS]

  1. Ichromy is terrific. I like Atomic as well but ichromy is new and I like it even better.

    • Thanks for that, Diane! It’s nice to have that familiar Chrome look and feel on my iPad. It’s got a decent feature-set too, and is free, so that doesn’t hurt. I will probably stick with Atomic for the moment, though — iChromy makes me miss my extensions. :P

    • IChromy (now known as Diigo) is a piece of crap. After trying to use it for a few days, I am completely frustrated. There are so many things broken, and you get no response fro developer. None of the google apps work well, but today when I tried to login to yahoo mobile mail, the login itself was consistebtly failing, so I finally gave up and decided to buy see what is worth buying. So far, Atomic, Mercury, iCabMobile and Perfect web browser have been recommended the most, but based the reviews in the appstore, I think I will go for Atomic.

      • The more I used what was iChromy, the more I liked the idea, but not the implementation. I haven’t had the trouble you had Hari, but I definitely like Atomic better.

  2. Thanks Bobby for another good heads-up!

    There’s no doubt that Safari is limited/limiting. I hadn’t realised that there was a decent alternative out there, but this looks like a vast improvement – even on the iphone. I wonder though how the Safari improvements due in iOS 5 stack up against it.

    So far as spending a little cash on apps – I’ve recently converted myself to being prepared to pay up for good apps, especially when the price is so often less than my daily coffee. Both (good apps and good coffee) make my life that little bit better!

    • My pleasure, Daryl!

      It looks like a couple of the features will be added in iOS 5, such as actual tabs, and social sharing (to Twitter, anyway). I like the addition of Reader and the offline reading list, as well.

      We’ll have to see what other features/improvements come about. The big thing for me will be stability.

    • And I hear you on the app purchase point — I have to watch myself there, though, otherwise I will spend $500 dollars or more every couple of months… :P

  3. AWB is definitely better than Safari, and it pains me to say this because i’ve been a long time Safari user and i love its features.
    Unfortunately, one necessary feature in any browser is the ability to not crash every ten minutes, like Safari does lately.

  4. I have been using AWB and it’s certainly better than Safari and Chorme..

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