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Six Desktop and Mobile Browsers for an Alternative Web Experience

So, Internet Explorer is dead. I doubt anyone is out buying a wreath or digging out a black armband. Microsoft are already tinkering away with an alternative, code-named Project Spartan. Will it be any good? It probably won’t be half bad, Internet Explorer was plagued by an almost stubborn adherence to a laughably outdated structure, but the fact that Microsoft have ditched it in the altogether suggests that they are putting their ear to the ground.

The trouble is, it’s very, very difficult to goad people away from their comfort zones and most even slightly savvy internet users are already using either Chrome or Firefox (or perhaps Safari if they’re on a Mac). For the most part these browsers are balanced, easy to use and highly customisable, which is what you want. They still have their problems though and many people use them more because they see no viable alternative than for any other reason. The land of lesser-known browsers can seem like a desolate wasteland, with Opera sat lazily on a throne built out of dust and bad flash optimization.

If this is you, fear not, there are many other more interesting, purpose designed browsers out there to sample for both desktop and mobile platforms, so allow me to walk you through six of the most enticing (three for each).

Desktop: Maxthon Cloud Browser – The Swiss Army Knife

Personally, a lot of my online time is devoted to research. I write for several different websites and work for a social media company, I need to know what the hell I’m on about. After a certain point it can begin to feel like I’m being crushed under a landslide of tabs and bookmarks. I’m untidy enough in real life, I’d rather not be untidy online as well.

Obviously this school of thought extends beyond just me, and Maxthon Cloud Browser are clearly very much aware of that. It enables you to quickly and easily categorise and log everything, whilst also keeping all your information in sync across every platform you use it on. You can also download files to the cloud so you don’t have to worry about space usage. Beyond that, the browser is brimming with other interesting features to use for passwords, saving text across platforms, screencapping and lots of other things.

Mobile: Photon Flash Web Browser – The Eye-Candy

Safari mobile doesn’t support flash, most mobile browsers don’t and it can be rather vexing to either have to come out of the app to watch/listen to something or even just give up. Mobile browsing is still running to catch up with its big brother and some things are taking longer to figure out than others.

For viewing purposes though, Photon is your best bet. It costs $3.99, but for that you get a split-screen viewing mode, picture in picture and an easy to use full screen mode. It’s definitely better suited to bigger screens, but the in-browser brightness controls and rotation lock make it a must for anyone who likes to use their phone or tablet as a media browser.

Desktop: Comodo IceDragon – Fort Knox

The moment you take your computer online, you are opening it up to security risks. There are plenty of ways to allay those concerns, a comprehensive anti-virus package, high-level password security, making sure you only visit secure sites, but if you really want to be certain of your safety, get Comodo IceDragon.

It’s a Firefox-based browser which allows you to route your browsing through its own DNS servers, which are allegedly more secure than the regular ones (and faster). It gives you by-the-minute reports on the security strength of each site you visit, it has an inspector function that is constantly checking for dodgy doings and you can run it as a ‘virtual browser’. What that means is that the browser will be completely independent from the rest of your operating system, such that if any malware does manage to seep in, it will be trapped entirely within the confines of the browser. Visually it looks and runs just like Firefox, but there’s a Chrome version too (just called Comodo Dragon).

Mobile: Puffin – The Speed Freak

Just how fast your browser loads is much more software-dependent on mobile platforms than it is on a desktop. Safari mobile in particular, while reasonably intuitive, can be intolerably slow. Puffin isn’t, in fact it’s probably the fastest mobile browser currently available.

The interface is silky smooth, it can load even the heaviest pages at breakneck speed and there are dozens of add-ons on offer. You can download files directly through it as well, not to mention a readily available interface with AirPlay, virtual game pads and even theatre controls (especially useful on a tablet). Once again, it costs, $3.99 in this case, but if you’re willing to take that hit, it’s a must.

Desktop: Coowon Browser – The Toy Box

With processing power steadily improving, we’re becoming cable of doing more and more sophisticated things purely through browsers. We’ve been able to play video games in-browser for almost 20 years, but the level of detail and quality that flash and web browsers in general can handle is always increasing. Hence Coowon.

Among its many, many added features, this Chrome-based browser it offers the ability to login to multiple accounts across tabs (also useful for Facebook and such like), the ability to control the speed of games to better suit your needs, a tab recovery button, in-browser recording and even a ‘Bosskey’ hotkey which allows you to instantly make the browser vanish until whoever was peeking over your shoulder has gone away. It’s a solid browser even without the gaming aspect, but with it, it’s top of line.

Mobile: Dolphin – Old Reliable

Dolphin has been knocking about for years now. It’s far and away the most popular third-party browser amongst Android users and isn’t far behind on other platforms, with more than 80 million downloads to its name. It also recently got a fairly comprehensive makeover.

Its most prominent feature is the gestures function, which enables you to use press-and-drag gestures as a kind of bookmarking tool. For example, you could draw a ‘T’ and immediately get linked to your Twitter account. It makes getting to all your most regularly used sites much, much smoother. Beyond that, it’s just an attractive, functional browser laden with enough bells and whistles to keep up with all the other heavy-hitters.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Six Desktop and Mobile Browsers for an Alternative Web Experience Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Rating: 5
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