Browser4two does one thing well

I can sum up browser4two in a couple of sentences for those bottom line readers who want their reviews in sound bytes (or word bytes): browser4two allows two people to share one browser without getting on each others’ nerves. It’s quirky, but not really buggy and it will never, ever be the browser you go to on a daily basis.

It will be the one browser you can share.

Warning: If you intend to take browser4two on a first date, I recommend you reschedule and have a long talk with someone who’s dated before. And I don’t mean dating online.

In addition, I discuss the nature of novelty in relationships and how newspapers are probably losing subscribers because they don’t seem to want their money. Knowing me, there’s a lot of other stuff in here that I can’t even remember writing. Oh, yes, I do compare the manliness of World Cup soccer players to players in the NFL, and the results may surprise you. Or irritate you. Or both.

Browsing for breakfast

This morning Carol and I went out for breakfast to collect free muffins with a coupon she saw in the paper.1

Usually we take the morning paper with us because it’s something we can share without having to actually talk to each other. After twenty-five years of marriage, idle conversation often covers ancient territory or pushes buttons. So we choose to share the love and the paper instead, and cling to some luddite traditions from our lives before the digital revolution.

Unfortunately, the paper with the coupon was the last paper we will receive for a while because our newspaper, the Austin Real Estatesman, claims Carol didn’t pay. Now, trust me, if there’s one thing Carol doesn’t do, it’s not pay. When she says the check is in the mail, it’s really in the mail. It would also be the first time she didn’t pay in the twenty-five years we’ve been married.

When I say the check is in the mail, it’s with the best intentions of mailing it, but then Jenny or Teddy wants to play and I have a blog to post, and I forget all about it. Which is why Carol pays the bills.

But for some reason the check didn’t make it, or so they claim. When Carol went online to post a payment, she discovered the Real Estatesman accepts online payments but won’t tell you how much you owe. So she called the number the web site told her to call, and it was closed for the day. So she couldn’t pay until today, and that means it will be weeks before we see our morning paper again.

Carol thinks, and I happen to agree with her, that if newspapers are so desperate for subscription money they wouldn’t make it so hard for subscribers to pay. But this could be why they’re so desperate for subscribers. No one knows how to write checks anymore, much less actually mail them.

Please don’t think I’m wandering off the beaten path again because this is germane to today’s blog. Since we didn’t have a paper to read, we decided to try browser4two on our 3G iPad. The idea of browser4two is to allow couples to sit across from each other at a table and share an iPad like the morning paper.

It was a good thing too, because even if it had been a first date we would have run out of ways to entertain each other. During our breakfast we had four different waitresses, each taking different parts of our orders and bringing them separately. First came the corned beef hash, then, only after we gave up waiting and finished the corned beef hash, yet another waitress came our eggs and fruit. That waitress left before we could ask for the rest of the order and we finally had to collar the waitress at the table behind us to ask for our juice and muffins, which we had actually come for because they were the reason for the coupon.

That waitress, in turn, made sure we watched her take the second waitress aside and pass the order to her. Finally a new waitress returned with our juice and the butter for the muffins, which arrived with the last waitress as she brought the check.

When we handed her the coupon she said, “Make sure to tip us for the regular cost of the meal.”

Fortunately for her, we do that anyway, and usually tip twenty percent or more because we know how hard waitresses work. But on this particular morning, with this particular waitressing staff, Carol really had to appeal to the last fading embers of Christian charity in me to not leave a tip this time that said, “Next time get the order right.”

In the meantime, we had a couple of hours to spend with browser4two to pass the time. Otherwise it would have been me saying, “Did I tell you about…” and her saying “twice a year since we’ve been married,” and her asking what I thought of the latest rescue cat when I didn’t even realize we’d rescued another cat.

I won’t say browser4two saved our marriage, but it probably saved our breakfast (if not the cold, overcooked eggs).

Browser4two does one thing and one thing only. It splits into and flips two different web browser windows, each with its own independent navigation tools. Either user can take control of the virtual keyboard to enter a new URL into their window. If your iPad is 3G equipped there are very few breakfasts you and your loved one won’t be able to share.

Even the really disappointing ones.

What you see here is what you get.
And all you get.

browser4two is fun to share

I can’t explain it but there’s something digitally titillating about sharing a web browser across the table. In fact, we probably talked more browsing than we would have reading the paper. This may have been the novelty or the fact that we had to wait for the links to load so we shared what we were planning to read.

It certainly beat having to fold and unfold the paper, finding a place to put it and getting newsprint all over our fingers. Of course, we had to make sure not to spill anything on the iPad. A wet newspaper can be thrown away. A wet iPad can too, but it’s a hell of a lot more painful to see it go.

Browser4two is cheap

Less than a dollar. Which in the App Store can either mean free or 99 cents.

It isn’t free.

browser4two makes it fun to do different things

Neither of you has to read. One can play an online game and the other can troll Facebook looking for friends to poke. One could shop for a new pair of shoes and the other could chat with friends. One of you could even go online to Siamese Rescue and adopt Merlyn, Flurry, or Itty Bitty. All three of them can’t wait to get away from Teddy and Zorro and that awful Neanderthal dog Chutney to find their own lap to cuddle.

I did notice a couple of glitches during our trial run with browser4two.

If you need help, you’re pretty much on your own

It took most of the time we spent waiting for breakfast to work most of the wrinkles out, and a couple I didn’t figure out until later. I suppose I could have read the directions, but I couldn’t find a help button. The developer’s web link from the App store leads to a blog with an entry for another app and a piece of self-promotion.

There may have been a brief tutorial when I first downloaded it, but who can remember those after a couple of weeks have passed? Let’s face it, browser4two was never going to be my primary browser. Or yours, for that matter.

The main wrinkle was our inability to access the keyboard on both sides. We thought that was a shortcoming when I had to type in Carol’s addresses upside down. The thought of turning the iPad seemed ridiculous. What’s the point of a two-person browser when you have to keep turning it?

I realized when I looked at the app at home that the developers included a keyboard button in both browser windows to allow each user to capture the keyboard when they need it. They also toggle one keyboard button to a lock button, restricting keyboard access to one window.

Whoever had the lock idea probably never spent more than three weeks in a relationship because that one won’t fly with wives like Carol.

Each user can hijack the keyboard with the “keyboard” button.

This still leaves couples with a dilemma should both want access to the keyboard at the same time. But it didn’t happen when Carol and I used the browser at breakfast.

Crowded navigation bar

The navigation bars squeeze a lot into very little space. This is probably a given when you want users to see as much of the web page as possible. It also means the Google field has been reduced to a teeny tiny link sharing space with a number of lesser links.
The bar also includes a mysterious button labelled “X.”

At first I thought it closed one of the browser windows to open the other window to full screen. But when I clicked on it, absolutely nothing happened. Nothing happened in the other window either. Since I can’t find any documentation I can only assume it’s a vestigial button that will be bred out in later generations.

Constantly says “error loading page”

We would get this error message about every three times we loaded a new page. The page still loaded, the browser just didn’t seem to realize it. At first I thought it might be a weak 3G signal; ATT service can be spotty in the Oak Hill area where we live.

When I got home and connected with our wireless account, the same message kept popping up. And the pages continued to load. Go figure.

In spite of the ceaseless warnings, the pages loaded just fine.

The iPad rocks in the case when one reader is typing

It felt like our fingers were children on a see saw. Every time one of us touched the iPad it would rock away from the other. I immediately assumed the problem was the case, which has that little pocket to tuck the front flap into. But when we took it out of the case, it continued to rock. Not nearly as badly, but it still rocked. It seems that little rounded bottom on the iPad can get in the way.

Jenny Manytoes rates browser4two

Jenny Manytoes would purr if she could actually type URLs into browser4two. It only does one thing, but in spite of the occasional glitch, it works fairly well.

1Just in case I write something later in this blog that throws this time frame into doubt, let me specify here that by “this morning” I don’t mean the morning on which the blog was posted, but rather the morning on which I wrote the blog. I write these as they come to me, and sometimes write two or three a day, especially when I want to take time off to watch the playoff rounds of the World Cup. And, yes, I watch the World Cup even after the US has been eliminated.
I know many God fearing patriotic Americans think soccer is for sissies. I beg to differ. American football features muscle bound behemoths so afraid of pain they wear all kinds of protective gear. Soccer and Rugby players wear nothing but shorts and a t-shirt while eleven guys with spikes bowl them over for their chance to kick. Who’s the sissy now?
Besides, American TV (at least not network TV) would never broadcast a series called Footballer’s wives because the NFL wouldn’t want their image sullied (something that never happens when players shoot themselves or someone sitting across the room).back

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Graphics snippet


Jenny rates Change App Name

Footnote Links

P Text1

1Footnote Textback

Siamese Rescue

iPad Envy is created entirely using apps from my iPad
iPad Envy.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in Browsers, iPad, Utilities and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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