Four third-party Web browsers appear on Apple's App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
After denying entry of rival web browsers into its App Store for quite some time, Apple appears to have had a change of heart this week with the approval of four third-party browsers, each of which are now available for download.



The move is surprising given that the iPhone maker has shown resistance in the past to accepting new applications to its digital software store that replicate any of the core functionalities of its handheld products, such as their built-in Safari web browser or ability to download podcasts over the air.



In each case, the four accepted browsers -- Edge Browser, Webmate, Incognito, and Shaking Web -- are based on Apple's Webkit framework, the same set of libraries that make up the foundation of the company's Safari and mobile Safari browsers.



Firefox and Opera, two other third-party browsers that rely on their own rendering engines and frameworks, have unsurprisingly failed to gain App Store acceptance. The terms of Apple's iPhone SDK, the development kit that allows developers to author apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, specifically forbids applications that call on non-Apple frameworks and languages.



A preview of the four new browsers follows:



Edge Browser



Edge Browser (Free, App Store) bills itself as a Safari web browser that does not sacrifice screen real estate to to address or navigational bars. To enter a URL, however, you must navigate to the iPhone's settings dialog. As such, the app has been met with poor reviews.







Webmate



Webmate ($0.99, App Store) prides itself on delivering a more natural tabbed browsing experience than the iPhone's built in Safari web browser. As any iPhone user can attest, tabbed browsing in Safari is a time consuming experience given that each time you bring a tab into view, the contents of the tab must reload.



Designed specifically for readers of news sites, Webmate mitigates this problem by queuing up the contents of each link you click on into a new tab that loads in the background. You can then cycle through those tabs at any point without having to wait for their contents to reload.







Incognito



Incognito ($1.99, App Store) is an anonymous web browser for the iPhone and iPod touch that lets you browse the web without leaving a history of any kind. When you close the browser, Incognito will erase the entire session. This way, you won't have to clear Safari’s history just to hide a single entry, which renders the URL auto-completion useless.



The browser includes full, anonymous support for linked media files, including all videos and sound files played by mobile Safari, as well as an orientation lock mode and a customizable homepage.







Shaking Web



Shaking Web ($1.99, App Store) was conceived with the idea of making it easy to read webpages when you're moving, such as commuting by bus, train or car. When your hands move due to general body movement, the app senses the movement and applies a slight but opposite movement to the content area, with the goal of keeping the reading "where your eyes are."



The app currently features two modes: Turbo Off, which applies force only on vertical movements, and Turbo On, which applies force on both vertical and horizontal movements. The browser allows only one web page to be viewed at a time and does not support pop-up windows.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Well, here comes the folks screaming for Firefox and Opera on iPhone (they'll just be louder now). Those four offerings range from zero utility (Edge Browser) to moderate utility (Webmate). However, the pricing might be a hard sell for a lot of end users when they have Safari right here. I'd like to see how any of these are selling in a few weeks, once the initial fervor has died down.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    Palm Pre seems to be shaking some feathers.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    I really wish Apple would be a little more friendly to developers...these abrupt turnarounds only help to highlight the arbitrary nature of Apple's absurd regulations...
  • Reply 4 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dueces View Post


    Palm Pre seems to be shaking some feathers.



    I'm not quite sure how you reached that conclusion. Android didn't create this reaction. The timing has got to be coincidental. If Apple was really worried about the Pre's (eventual) release, they would have been inviting Opera and Mozilla to build and submit their own browsers well before flipping the switch on these four marginal apps.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Satan Himself View Post


    I'm not quite sure how you reached that conclusion. Android didn't create this reaction. The timing has got to be coincidental. If Apple was really worried about the Pre's (eventual) release, they would have been inviting Opera and Mozilla to build and submit their own browsers well before flipping the switch on these four marginal apps.



    Yeah, all these browsers were just in the same queue waiting for approval, and have been for a long time. Nothing to do with Palm pre at all.



    What I fail to understand (and I don't think the advocates are even thinking clearly here), is why people are so hot for browser alternatives on iPhone anyway. The main differentiating factors of browsers are the engines underlying the project and the UI.



    On iPhone, there won't be enough room or processing power for multiple rendering engines for a long time, and none of the alternative rendering engines are not as good as WebKit which is "built in." Also, the UI for all programs on the iPhone is minimal, but most Safari alternatives on the desktop are famous for their unique and rather busy interfaces. Mobile Safari only has one tool bar and a place to put the URL, how can that really be done significantly differently as to be worth installing a separate browser?



    Finally, Mobile Safari's appearance and functionality could be easily changed with a plug-in. A developer would have more success, (and the product would be more useful to the end user), if they focussed on developing mobile Safari plug-ins, not trying to reinvent a wheel that already is in the box.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,020member
    There are several apps that make use of WebKit for browsing within the app rather than the need to jump into Safari. A WebKit view is a standard Cocoa element and perfectly falls inside the terms listed under the developer agreement. There is no way Apple could ban these applications without changing the terms.



    What the terms forbid is for Opera or Firefox developing their own engine and installing it on the iPhone. I believe this falls under the "downloading and interpreting code" clause. Developers also cannot install any run-time systems and a web engine could easily fall under that category as well.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,721member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Satan Himself View Post


    Well, here comes the folks screaming for Firefox and Opera on iPhone (they'll just be louder now). Those four offerings range from zero utility (Edge Browser) to moderate utility (Webmate). However, the pricing might be a hard sell for a lot of end users when they have Safari right here. I'd like to see how any of these are selling in a few weeks, once the initial fervor has died down.



    I don't need it to be Firefox, I just need the functionality I get with FF3 + AdBlock Plus (and maybe element hiding). I'd pay for that, I'd bet a lot of other people would to. The smaller the form factor and the slower the connection, the greater the need.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    boogabooga Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    I don't need it to be Firefox, I just need the functionality I get with FF3 + AdBlock Plus (and maybe element hiding). I'd pay for that, I'd bet a lot of other people would to. The smaller the form factor and the slower the connection, the greater the need.



    I'm sure you wouldn't pay what the content is worth, though. AdBlockers undermine the entire economy of the web.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    I'm in the UK where the edge browser app isn't available on my iPod Touch (UK iTunes) but is available on my US iPhone (US store) which, on the edge browser I'm writing this. I like the bigger screen area of websites. It was slightly jerky and slow to respond on Apples website but is fine on appleinsider- it doesn't work well for posting though.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    I'm sure you wouldn't pay what the content is worth, though. AdBlockers undermine the entire economy of the web.



    The content's "worth" in terms of advertising, is usually grossly overrated.



    Also, the web worked perfectly fine in it's original iteration (before advertisements), and doesn't need them to survive IMO. It would be a less flashy, more informational web (as was originally envisioned) but it would still exist.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,721member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    I'm sure you wouldn't pay what the content is worth, though. AdBlockers undermine the entire economy of the web.



    The person selling the browser and the person buying the browser are not responsible for propping up a (failed, IMO) business model that relies on eyeballs looking at ads or fingers clicking through on ads.



    The fact remains that the person implementing something very equivalent to AdBlock Plus and Element Hiding with a WebKit-based iPhone browser is going to make a truckload of money. Its not just about the ads, its also about the faster and more streamlined web experience -- in a small form factor.



    What's next, are you going to tell me I can't fast forward through commercials with my DVR?
  • Reply 12 of 31
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    The content's "worth" in terms of advertising, is usually grossly overrated.



    Also, the web worked perfectly fine in it's original iteration (before advertisements), and doesn't need them to survive IMO. It would be a less flashy, more informational web (as was originally envisioned) but it would still exist.



    Ads don't bring much money anyway. I don't know if anyone is paying per exposure and if you never click on the ads, then it doesn't matter whether you see the ad because the site won't get paid for clicks that don't happen.



    The part that bothers me the most is that the advertising type is miscast, if I can appropriate a term from programming. If I'm looking at text content, I think it's a bit much to make me see animated ads, it's just too irritating and too distracting.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,158member
    I really don't care about web browsers since Safari is working fine so far. However, I am still waiting for iCall VOIP app. They have been in review since mid October!!
  • Reply 14 of 31
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    ... The part that bothers me the most is that the advertising type is miscast, if I can appropriate a term from programming. If I'm looking at text content, I think it's a bit much to make me see animated ads, it's just too irritating and too distracting.



    Totally agree.



    That's what I find with Safari AdBlock (I use it). The only ads that get through are ones that have been carefully tailored to do so and are usually pleasant, text based ads instead of the rude annoying ones.



    If ads weren't so intentionally annoying and deceptive and ugly in the first place, probably people wouldn't mind them so much. I know I wouldn't.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    aluopaluop Posts: 57member
    This article is very misleading.

    These are not web browsers; they are just some kind of plug-in like myIE.

    So, don't believe this. We are not going to see Firefox on iPhone.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    I'm sure you wouldn't pay what the content is worth, though. AdBlockers undermine the entire economy of the web.



    Great point.



    After I disable my ad blocking software, the Tivo is going in the trash!



  • Reply 17 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,671member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dueces View Post


    Palm Pre seems to be shaking some feathers.



    While I do agree Apple are paying attention to the Pre, I don't see how this particular story has anything to do with the Pre.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    boogabooga Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wilco View Post


    Great point.



    After I disable my ad blocking software, the Tivo is going in the trash!







    Make fun of me all you want, but someone has to pay for the content. If the advertisers don't, you either won't get it at all or everything will be subscription-based. I prefer banner ads. It would be great if there was a way to pay some company to remove all banner ads from the web and pay out the appropriate amount to each site. Until that happens, though, freeloaders will continue to work against good content on the web.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Any browsers supporting auto-fill?
  • Reply 20 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dueces View Post


    Palm Pre seems to be shaking some feathers.



    Pretty funny.

    Palm won't even be in business, but pretty funny.
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