If you are an Android user, you have probably already been introduced to the world of replacement web browsers. Sure, the stock browser is sufficient enough for most, but until you’ve explored alternatives, you don’t know what you’re missing. There are a good number of replacement browsers to choose from — many of which work great on tablets too — so personal preference does play a role.
One of the most popular Android replacement browsers out there is Dolphin Browser which we’ve written about before but has come a long way since. There are several unmistakable reasons why Dolphin has become the default browser for so many Android users. Here are 6 of them in no particular order.
Although I haven’t personally run speed tests to scientifically prove this point, Dolphin just seems to be faster than the stock browser. Chalk it up to memory usage or something else, pages just seem to pop up quite a bit quicker. According to the developers, the new Dolphin Engine is fast enough to put Chrome in its place. Browsing is fluid and page load times are very quick. Besides, as we’ll see later, the user interface makes navigation fast as well.
The integration of sidebars into the Dolphin browser really makes finding things simple and fast. Both sides of the browser window have slide-in sidebars giving easy access to all that you need.
The left sidebar contains bookmarks and history while the right sidebar gives access to browser add-ons.
To access the sidebars, simple touch the very edge (either the left or right) and drag toward the center of the browser window. Yes, it really is that easy.
One of my personal complaints about the stock Android browser, and even some of the other replacement browsers, is how complicated it is to do some tasks because of the design of the navigation. I don’t want to take five minutes to try to figure out a simple task, neither do I need it to take fifteen steps. It’d take a whole article to go through all of the ins and outs of every aspect of a browser’s navigation, but let’s look at some of Dolphin’s perks.
There when needed, gone when not
One of the things I like most about Dolphin’s navigation is that it fades away when not in use, giving the most screen space for website viewing. For instance, the tabs and the address bar along the top disappear when not in use.
To bring it back up, you simply press the well-known menu icon.
Speaking of the menu icon, it also brings up a bottom navigation bar.
This navigation bar includes shortcuts to bookmarks, forward, the Dolphin button, add-ons, and more.
The Dolphin button is not only located in the bottom navigation menu, but also in the lower left corner of the screen.
It’s not really in the way there because it’s translucent. This Dolphin button is your quick link to both gestures and voice controls.
Gestures is an interesting addition to what the Dolphin browser has to offer. Perhaps some would say they’re not all that useful but they are interesting, fun, and just plain neat.
Gestures give you the ability to use any type of swiping gesture to go to any bookmarked website you choose. For instance, you can choose to draw a big “G” on your screen and have it take you straight to Google. The way to get to gestures is via the little dolphin icon in the bottom corner of the browser screen, no menu button involved. This should make it easy and quick.
The Dolphin browser now even lets you control it by using your voice! The other option that comes up when you click the dolphin button is called Sonar. That is the Dolphin browser’s word for voice control. Now through a list of specific voice commands, you can almost totally control your web browser, at least do a good deal of navigating.
I ran a quick test. I wanted to find out if the Nexus 7 was for sale on Ebay so I simply said “Ebay Nexus 7″ and it took me straight to Ebay’s search results for Nexus 7. Perfect.
The Dolphin browser website has a “secret” list of voice commands that should get you well on your way to magically controlling your browser using your voice.
Dolphin browser add-ons make it possible to add functionality that doesn’t already come out-of-the-box. The idea behind add-ons is that there is now an atmosphere that this already awesome browser can be built upon. You’ll find add-ons that can do all sorts of things like improve readability, transform web pages to PDFs, manage passwords, and more.
Dolphin has been a popular Android browser for quite some time. It was an early adopter of tabbed browsing and a good choice when it came to changing user agents (viewing sites as if you were using a different type of device or computer). Since then it’s grown in its innovation becoming quicker, smoother, and sharper.
If you check out the Google Play Store, you’ll see that the developers of Dolphin browser have several other projects going on. They’ve developed a mini browser version that’s probably designed for older slower devices with older versions of Android — it supports 1.6 and up. They’ve also got a browser version specifically designed for tablets in beta, although the regular Dolphin browser works just great with tablets.
When it comes down to it, the Android browser you choose largely depends on personal preference. Download and install several browsers and see what you like about each. Eventually you’ll find yourself more and more often leaning towards one of them. Dolphin is one that many people end up settling on.