At first, Digital Poke’s mobile Web browser app, 360 Web Browser, is more than a little intimidating—the $1 alternative browser takes some getting used to. Safari, for all its faults and limitations, comes second nature, and learning all the tricks and maneuvers necessary for a new Web browser takes some time. However, after using 360 Web Browser for a couple weeks, let me assure you that its power and speed make it well worth the effort.
The design of the app is uncluttered and simple. 360 Web Browser comes with a choice of two free color themes (light blue with gray and neon green). If these don’t do it for you, you can buy four additional themes that cost between $1 and $2 via in-app purchases.
When you launch the app, you arrive at a home screen broken into thirds—the top row keeps track of your recently visited sites, the middle lists Websites that are trending, and the lower row displays sites you have bookmarked. You can scroll through all of these sections by flicking left or right.
As with Safari, an address bar and Google search box adorn the top of 360 Web Browser. A plus sign in the top right corner opens new tabs, and a check mark designates the tab you’re currently viewing. Slide your finger across the row of tabs to flip through them.
The toolbar at the bottom of the 360 Web Browser screen displays some basic controls: back and forward buttons, a refresh key, a bookmarks tab, and settings. But the key to navigating the browser lies in the blue 360 Arc icon. A tap and hold brings up the Arc, which offers an array of options like adding a page to bookmarks, searching text on a page, and zooming in on text. I suspect most users will utilize the full screen tool of the Arc, which eliminates the toolbar and input boxes to allow for maximum screen space. Flip your iPhone or iPod touch on its side for a landscape view while in full-screen mode, and you’ll get a richer browsing experience than what mobile Safari offers.
The more I got used to 360 Web Browser, the more Safari seemed to be outmatched by this alternative app. The most obvious difference is in the tabs feature. Safari cuts off the amount of pages open at eight. I got up to 15 on 360 Web Browser, and the app shows no sign of stopping. While certain actions (pinch and zoom, double tap to zoom in or out) exist in both apps, 360 Web Browser’s range of settings is unparalleled. Among its many talents, 360 Web Browser has optional password retention and supports open-source plugins as well as an in-app offline mode.
Becoming accustomed to the browser takes time. 360 Web Browser has an introductory tutorial, but I found it more helpful to watch some online videos of the app in action. It’s certainly a departure from Safari, and maneuvering through Websites with 360 seems clumsy at first. After a few days of use, however, navigating the 360 Arc became something of a second nature and ultimately led to a richer, quicker web browsing experience.
[Stephanie Kent is an editorial intern at Macworld.]
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