iOS Browser Review: iCab Mobile
First in my sights is iCab Mobile, the mobile version of iCab for Mac. Being a universal app, it is optimized for both the iPhone and iPad. However, I shall be concentrating on the iPad browsing experience. iCab Mobile attempts to provide a more desktop-like experience than Mobile Safari, bringing many features found in its OS X version to the mobile platform. Highlights include in-page searching (something the current full release of Mobile Safari for the iPad can't yet manage), full screen mode, ad blocking via filters, desktop style tabs, a download manager, and a nifty bit of Dropbox support.
If that wasn't enough to warrant your $2, iCab mobile also gets around the file system limitation of iOS for downloads, using a built-in download manager with hooks into Dropbox. This means that you can download any type of file and upload it to your Dropbox, right from the browser. Admittedly, Mobile Safari now lets you open files in other programs on your iPad or iPhone that support the type of file you're trying to download, but it's certainly not as flexible as iCab Mobile's download manager.
Rather unusually, iCab includes both passworded access control and guest access, for times when you want to lend your iOS device to a friend, but you don't want them snooping over your bookmarks or browser history. That's not something I'm likely to worry about, but it could potentially help with keeping your browsing private. I can't help thinking that a private browsing mode would have been more useful, though. iCab also lets you change the browser agent, which allows you to view those few sites that like to divert you to a mobile version without giving you the option of viewing the full thing (something that can be particularly infuriating on the iPad). Unfortunately, bookmarks can't be taken or synced from Mobile Safari, which means desktop sync with iTunes is out. iCab does, however, let you manually import or export your bookmarks to your computer or Dropbox. Once you've got your bookmarks into the browser, you can use them for autocomplete in the address bar. It works in much the same way that a desktop browser would; that's a nice touch. Ad blocking (which uses user configurable filters in iCab) also works relatively well, so the need for additions like the jailbreak Safari adblock is reduced, and your browsing is cleaned of a significant proportion of the non-Flash-based ads.
VerdictIn the end, iCab Mobile adds a few decent features to the already winning formula of Mobile Safari, and it makes the browsing experience even better, especially on the iPad. There are a few shortcomings, such as a larger default UI that encroaches on your screen real estate, but considering that the full screen browsing is so good, it can be forgiven. With a modicum of ad blocking, a proper download manager, and built-in Dropbox support, there's a lot to love about iCab Mobile. Given that you get both an iPhone and iPad app in one, for the price of a cup of coffee, it's well worth looking at. But if you're still not convinced, have a look through the gallery above.
iCab Mobile [iTunes] - $1.99