Spoiler alert! Dolphin Browser HD is innovative and maybe even cool, but I’m not sure it will be enough to get you to switch browsers. Three stars.
Dolphin Browser HD bills itself as an innovative alternative browser, which it is. Some of the features are bold steps forward. But so were the features on the Betamax. In fact the Betamax was a fine machine, superior in many ways to the VCR. Somehow it failed to attract buyers.
Internet Explorer is the worst browser ever. It dominates PC desktops. (Some people say “litters,” but I won’t). There are three iPad browsers I like better than Safari, but I still use Safari most often.
I don’t doubt that iPad users who didn’t react to the release announcement with, “Oh, no, another browser,” probably did download it and give it a spin. I’m not sure they will love it enough to switch. I won’t be.
That doesn’t mean Dolphin HD can’t be fixed, but it does need work.
The browser adds two distinctive features to browsing, one borrowed from magazine apps like, and the other a gesture interface designed to take full advantage of touch pad browsing. Dolphin HD also opens some sites in a reading window much like Newsstand and the WordPress interface.
The most distinctive feature is the gesture interface. You can define gestures to launch specific websites or jump to the top or bottom of the page. When you launch a site you want to visit with a simple gesture, you can open the gesture settings window and draw a gesture to take you there from any page you’re browsing.
The gesture editor allows you to use pre-defined gestures and add custom gestures to speed up navigation to favorite sites.
The development of the feature is impressive but I’m not sure it will win many users. It reminds me of the days in education when we sat through seminars and read books on the seven types of learning (sight, sound, touch, motion, rhythm, etc., only with more syllables such as “kinesthertic”) and then teachers would return to their classroom and lecture.
Even when the gesture is defined, you still have to click on the gesture icon to open a separate gesture window and draw the gesture (if you remember it). It’s definitely cool but it takes as much effort as using a bookmark.
The home page offers speed dial and webzine browers options. You can customize the addresses and settings to suit your preferences.
The home page offers speed dial and webzine options for navigation. The speed dial option allows you to jump to any page you want once you define it. The webzine also allows you to leap to any page you want provided it’s one of the predefined sites offered by Dolphin HD.
Sites accessed in webzine mode can also be viewed in magazine format similar to the interface offered with Newsstand apps. This is one feature that is catching on, even with Safari in OS1o Lion, because it’s easier to focus on an article than wading through the links and ads on standard web pages.
Webzine browsing allows you to read articles as though laid out in print format, but only when you use the webzine. Speed dial links work just like any other browser.
Dolphin HD also comes packaged with a major drawback. I couldn’t find any link back to the home page. It may be there, but whenever I wanted to return to my main page I had to back track through the links. I even tried adding the home page to the bookmarks folder, but since it has no URL, I had no luck.
The main purpose of browser innovation is to save time and touches (or keystrokes or mouse clicks). As attractive and slick as I find the Dolphin HD interface, it feels as though browsing is more of a chore rather than less.
I hate to tell readers they will like or dislike an app in the same way I will. You may prefer the Dolphin HD browsing experience. I simply think it won’t have the widespread appeal developers were hoping for.
Jenny Manytoes rates Dolphin Browser HD
Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Dolphin HD. It’s a decent browser with a totally different approach to navigation. I also think the bugs will be ironed out eventually. But even when operating at it’s smoothest I suspect it will make browsing different, not more efficient.