Spoiler alert! Just before the summer break I announced that Perfect Browser is the best iPad app I’ve used, even though I hadn’t reviewed it yet. If the previous sentence didn’t seem like a spoiler, you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills because Perfect Browser is the best iPad app I’ve used.
When I first saw the name “Perfect Browser” by “Ingenious Creations” I found myself in an imaginary conversation with the developer asking, “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that naming your product ‘perfect’ only makes you sound naive?” After all, perfect is a fairly extraordinary claim. Especially from someone who describes themselves as ingenious.
It’s the oldest rule of promotion. Never call yourself perfect or ingenious. Let other people call you those things. If you call yourself perfect or ingenious, it sounds like bragging, and if you feel the need to brag you probably have nothing to brag about.
It’s kind of like the kid who tells you the lemonade at his lemonade stand is “the best lemonade ever.” You may cough up the two-fifty for a paper juice cup of lemonade, but deep in your heart you know it will taste too sour or too watery. You’re only buying it because it’s a kid and only a heartless, soulless s.o.b. would refuse to buy lemonade from a kid. That would be like kicking the legs out from underneath a card table stacked high with boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
I remember one afternoon about forty years ago I stopped at a table with the cutest little blonde girl you could imagine and a sign that said “Root Beer Floats. All you can drink for 50 cents.” So I paid my 50 cents and got one spoonful of ice cream and root beer in a paper juice cup.
Now this was a different, more innocent era. Nixon was still President and people didn’t really believe he would lie to the American People. The Beatles were still a group. Half of America was still convinced we could win the war in Viet Nam the way we won the war in Korea.1
A juice cup and a tea spoon of ice cream seemed like a rip off for 50 cents, but it was all you could drink. So I sipped my float and then handed the cup to the little girl and asked for more. She said, “That will be 50 cents.”
I could see the punchline coming. “But the sign said all I can drink for 50 cents.”
She said, “That was all you can drink for 50 cents.” After some wrangling, I realized this little con-artist in the making wasn’t going to see the light of reason. So I rang the bell to her house to tell her parents what she was up to. A woman answered the door and I realized this was going to be a losing battle.
You see, I’d met this woman before. She was a Jehovah’s Witness. And she loved to knock on my door every Saturday morning at eight a.m. to sell me a Watchtower magazine. The problem was, the house I lived in was split into apartments, and what looked like the front door was actually my bedroom. And Saturday was the one day I could sleep in.
After several weeks of being rudely awakened I finally told the woman in no uncertain terms that I sleep in the buff and that if she knocked on my door at eight a.m. on a Saturday one more time, I wouldn’t bother to throw my clothes on before I answered the door.
The next Saturday, at eight a.m. precisely, I heard knocking on my bedroom door. I leaped out of bed, threw open my front door to reveal myself in all my naked glory and realized there was a six year old girl standing in my doorway with a Watchtower magazine in her hand. Her mother was standing at the end of the sidewalk next to the street.
I screamed like a little girl, the little girl screamed like a little girl, I slammed the door shut and that was the last I saw of the Jehovah’s Witness woman until I bought all the root beer float I could drink for 50 cents from that same little girl. Naturally I didn’t recognize her because I really didn’t look that closely before I slammed my door that fateful Saturday morning.
As I stared at that woman standing in her own front door, who was probably as shocked to see me, I realized that the little girl was doomed to a life of confidence and film flam from the beginning because she, like me, was PK. Maybe not a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK) but JWPK which might be even worse.
I also realized that if I opened my mouth I might be inviting myself in and end up walking out with an arm load of Watchtowers in addition to being ripped off for the root beer float. So rather than ratting out the little girl’s confidence game to her mother, I said, “Have you heard the good news of Jesus Christ?”
She slammed the door in my face and I escaped to my car fifty cents poorer but a whole world wiser.
Needless to say, when I downloaded an app named “Perfect Browser,” I launched it, fully expecting the digital equivalent of all I could drink for 50 cents.
I got so much more.
More perfect than you should expect for $3
Three isn’t quite as good as free, but it’s money well spent on Perfect Browser. Technically, the product is named Perfect Web Browser because Perfect Browser is the iPhone version of the same product.
If I really wanted to get technical I would have to report that the product name isn’t even Perfect Web Browser. It’s “PERFECT Web Browser—EXTRAORDINARY browser with REAL Tabs, Auto Scroll & Rapid VGA.” If you didn’t see why I was snarking in the self-hyping name before, you probably do by now. But there’s no way in hell I’m going to to type, or even acronym, all of those words every time I refer to the product. So Perfect Browser will have to do.
The hype joke is on me, however, because Perfect Browser does everything it names itself for, and more. Perfect Browser is as functional as desktop browsers, which is something that iPad Safari can’t claim. As you would expect, it’s not really perfect. It lacks one or two features other browsers such as Atomic Web and iCab mobile offer (such as auto form fill), but it does offer the one feature no other browser offers and that I find essential.
In-page text search
I do a lot of reference reading, and when I’m looking for specific information on a page, I need to be able to perform a rapid text search within the page. This is a standard feature on desktop browsers, but I can only find it on the iPad with Perfect Browser.
If you’re looking for a particular reference on a web page, you can click on the magnifying glass icon in Perfect Browser’s toolbar and enter the text into the search dialogue. Perfect Browser finds the string, if it exists, as quickly as desktop browsers.
Only Perfect Browser performs in-page searches.
When I first opened Safari on the iPad I was surprised by its limitations. No page search, no tabs, not much more than the limited iPhone version on a bigger screen. This is typical of Apple’s mobile development strategy. Throw in software that does a half-assed job and then let third party developers write the really useful apps.
If you can find that really useful app among the hundreds of potentially good and really awful apps in the App store. It’s difficult because there are so many of them, and the search feature only searches by product name.
What surprised me was that Perfect Browser was the only iPad Browser that supported the in-page search feature. This alone, is enough to make it my goto browser. Even without the search feature, however, the browser stands up well against competitors.
Most iPad users know the frustration of trying to get a wireless connection even in locations that should have wireless connections. The wireless at the local Starbucks seems to disappear for an hour every day around noon, for instance. It’s difficult to get a connection on the road (for passengers, I mean), and even 3G has occasional dead spots.
Perfect Browser allows you render important pages for offline browsing and save them just like book marks. You can also render pages they way they would render on other browsers, including mobile browsers. Personally, I never really understood why it matters whether or not a page is rendered like Safari or Firefox, but for some people this seems to be important.
You can render pages to emulate other browsers.
Full screen with tabs
Full screen browsing has become common to mobile device browsers, and the iPad has three or four browsers with full screen capabilities. I’m not sure full screen browsing is as critical on the iPad as it is on the iPhone and other smart phones, but it can be nice to read without all of the clutter at the top of the screen.
Perfect Browser offers a couple of wrinkles on full screen browsing worth noting. The first is the autoscroll feature mentioned in it’s long title. Autoscroll is a translucent scrollbar at the far right of the screen. Rather than having to manually drag the page up or down to access more content, you need only keep your finger on the up or down triangle and the page will scroll itself.
Autoscroll eliminates the need to page up and down to access content.
Another cool wrinkle is the ability to keep tabs visible in full screen mode. Everything else is removed from view, but if you want to keep the tabs visible you can. This makes it easier to switch between pages without having to toggle the menubar on and off.
You can also keep tabs visible in full screen mode.
Perfect Browser also allows you to organize your bookmarks on the fly. You don’t need to set up a new folder before you try to save your bookmark. The bookmark manager has a new folder tab so that you can create the folder and bookmark almost simultaneously. It’s a little feature, but a nice one.
No autofill feature
Ingenious Creations has been good about improving the app since its initial release. Originally you had to type the full url in the address bar, now you can shorthand with the site name, for instance. The one feature they haven’t added is an autofill feature for passwords and forms. This is slightly disappointing since almost every other full featured browser does.
I was also miffed that the last major upgrade required me to trash the original app and reinstall the upgrade. As a consequence, I lost all my bookmarks and settings. I certainly hope they don’t repeat that disaster.
All in all, however, I have to say Perfect Browser remains at the top of my list of every day apps. I haven’t changed my mind since I named it as the best app since the iPad’s release.
Jenny Manytoes rates Perfect Web Browser
Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits on Perfect Browser. In addition I have to give it a Best Buy recommendation.