The best mobile browser is neither Safari nor Opera Mini, both of which are pretty good. No, the best mobile for my money is iCab Mobile, which has some really great features, like page persistence and real, tappable tabs.
I’ve been using iCab Mobile 3.2 (iTunes, $1.99) for over a year now. It’s a universal app that runs on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch — pay once, use everywhere.
That said, were it not for Safari’s iPhone OS hooks (i.e. Mail, iTunes tie ins) and the fact that it can’t be deleted, I wouldn’t use Apple’s mobile browser at all.
Why? The two biggest reasons are page persistence — turn off networking, fire up iCab Mobile and the last page(s) you loaded are still there — and real tabs, which allow you to view the different pages you have open just by tapping the available tabs, so there’s no need to pull up separate menu and then select pages.
Also, as you can see from the above screen cap, the iPad is offline and previously loaded pages reloaded without a network connection. Generally, Safari has to reload previously viewed pages via the network, so form data, etc. gets lost as soon as you leave Safari.
Page persistence is very, very handy if you’re a blogger moving between a browser, email and other apps, like SkyGrid, AP News, NPR and Evernote. This feature isn’t perfect — it pays to save — but it’s light years ahead of Safari and has saved my digital bacon many, many times.
Another feature unique to iCab Mobile is the ability to download files and wirelessly transfer them to a Mac or PC — brilliant. This feature can also be used to import and export bookmarks.
Lastly, and this is a huge timesaver, as well, you can tap and hold an image or link whereupon iCab Mobile will offer you to the option to open it in a background tab, among other choices.
Again, if it was possible to set iCab Mobile as the default browser on my iPad and iPod touch, I would have done it a long time ago. Even with that limitation in mind, iCab Mobile is greatly superior to Mobile Safari and is my go to browser, and a bargain at $1.99…
What’s your take?