NetFront Browser for Android: Hands-on
NetFront is a free browser for Android with a few features I haven't seen on any other browser. I took it for a spin, and created a gallery for your viewing pleasure. Now let's look at those features:
Reading webpage text on a tiny screen can be pretty irritating. In portrait mode, the characters are tiny -- and in landscape mode not many lines fit on the screen. Most people just make do with pinching-zooming and scrolling, but NetFront tries a different tack: it shows the lines diagonally.
That's right: Why pick just landscape or portrait, if you can read your text at a 45 degree angle? It looks as crazy as it sounds; I didn't edit the image linked – that's how it was on the screen.
While definitely an attention grabber, I wouldn't say this is a useful feature. It was really awkward to use, and I couldn't figure out how to scroll to the part I wanted to display. Still, NetFront does get points for effort here.
NetFront has a "scissors" icon on the bottom toolbar. Tapping it doesn't allow you to copy text or images. Instead, you can circle any part of the webpage, and it gets saved into your scrapbook. ACCESS, NetFront's developers, really wanted the scrapbook to look like a book, so it even has "holes" in the "margins", just as if it was taken out of an office binder.
I don't think any OCR is done with the scraps – it seems like they're saved just as plain screenshots. This is another innovative feature that I'm not sure I would ever actually use. Still, if you're the visual sort, you might like this.
Right next to the scissors icon, there's a checkmark icon. Once you tap this icon, touching the webpage leaves a check mark wherever you touched. So if there's anything you want to highlight, just scroll over to it and touch it. What's nice about this feature is that it works both with images and text. What's not so nice about it is that there seems to be no way to export the checkmarks to a PC or even to another application; I also couldn't find a way to search them.
While NetFront offers a ton of settings, the settings screen was made to resemble an iPhone app rather than an Android app. I found this irritating enough to mention: Google does not enforce strict adherence to any sort of UI guidelines for Android, and the result is applications that look and feel completely different. Setting display is one area where there does appear to be some sort of consensus amongst the Android developer community, but NetFront breaks the mold here, too.
Overall Browsing Experience
Other than those gimmicks, NetFront is pretty much what you'd expect out of a browser. I don't see a clear reason to use NetFront over the stock Android browser, but it's definitely no worse.