Atomic Web: A Better iPad Browser

By  |  Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

After reading about Atomic Web for the iPad a few days ago on Gizmodo, I surrendered $1 to the App Store and gave it a try. Now, I’ve happily banished Safari to the farthest reaches of my home screen, as this browser alternative looks and feels like Safari but with better features.

Atomic Web’s main lure is tabbed browsing. On the iPhone, I never had much use for tabs, because I don’t frequently read on the small screen, and therefore don’t get into the routine of opening background windows while scanning for interesting articles. On the iPad’s big screen, bouncing between pages is essential.

Atomic Web handles tabs like a desktop browser, displaying them directly underneath the address bar. When you press and hold on a link, a contextual menu allows you to open the page in a foreground or background tab. Switching between tabs is instantaneous — a huge relief given that Safari sometimes has to reload pages if you stray for too long.

Tabbed browsing isn’t Atomic Web’s only advantage. There’s also full screen browsing, find in page, multi-touch shortcuts (two-finger swipes with customizable actions), support for a couple dozen search tools, private mode, an ad blocker and customizable colors. It also comes with some cool bookmarklets — special functions that masquerade as bookmarks — including quick access to Google Translate.

I only have one complaint with Atomic Web: When you quit the browser, it has to reload all your pages again next time you start up, even if you set the browser to preserve all open tabs after quitting.

My other gripe with the browser isn’t Atomic Web’s fault, and speaks to a larger issue with the iPad: You can’t set Atomic Web or any other alternative browser as your default. Safari is part of the OS’s core, so you can’t make Web apps open in Atomic Web from the home screen, and other programs, such as TweetDeck, automatically launch Safari when you want to view something in a proper browser. The best you can do is install a bookmarklet in Safari that jumps to Atomic Web with your current Web page, but it’s one extra step.

That those drawbacks haven’t deterred me from forgetting Safari exists is a testament to how much Atomic Web deserves its $1 asking price.

 
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12 Comments For This Post

  1. NickAVV Says:

    Interesting. I would give Apple major props if they allowed you to change your default browser in iPhone OS. Anything they can do to make me feel less like they’re locking me into their system would be impressive.

  2. Bart Says:

    This doesn’t look or feel anything like Safari on any platform (or even like an iPhone/iPad app). It looks like Opera or a Linux browser and the buttons are on the wrong side of the tabs.

  3. Matthew Says:

    “…install a bookmarklet in Safari that jumps to Atomic Web with your current Web page…”

    How do you do that exactly? I’ve found Safari on iPad to have ZERO functionality, so I don’t understand how that is possible within it.

  4. Jared Newman Says:

    @Matthew,

    When you’re in the Atomic browser, there’s an option in settings called “Install Bookmarket.” This jumps you to Safari and opens a page with instructions on how to install the bookmarklet, which lets you jump from Safari back into Atomic with whatever page you’re viewing.

    I’ve actually added this bookmarklet to the bookmarks bar in Safari, just in case I ever end up in that browser and want to get back to Atomic in a hurry.

  5. Ron Says:

    I just picked up my iPad; and I have to agree that Atomic is awesome! I ran the spirit JB, and installed Browser Change, so Atomic is my default–if I click a link in Mail, Atomic opens it up. Still doesn’t save pages on close though.

  6. Allyn Says:

    Does Atomic Web, or any other browser project (via the iPad VGA adapter, or course) so that I can connect my iPad to a classroom projector.

  7. ShadowVlican Says:

    "I only have one complaint with Atomic Web: When you quit the browser, it has to reload all your pages again next time you start up, even if you set the browser to preserve all open tabs after quitting."

    i share these complaints as well… and therefore not worth the switch from safari imo

  8. Marcifer Says:

    Time for a class action lawsuit to have the ability to remove safari from the guts of apple's OS, just like with Microsoft and IE. How long before that happens, or is apple special?

  9. Brysn Says:

    Try jailbreaking! You can change the setting so it will use any browser you want as the default!! Right now I use atomic as my default browser. It's great!

  10. Michael Says:

    How do you find a word or phrase in the page?

  11. Jessica Says:

    @Allyn

    The app 2screens is projectable and has a built in browser, but also the capability to open PDFs, docs, etc. It also has a whiteboard mode.

  12. Susie Says:

    I was sold on atomic web for my iPad and iTunes does not have it?.. Now what

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