Dolphin Browser was one of the first alternative browsers to support multitouch when the appropriate APIs were released from Google. It was packed with features, but didn’t appeal to everyone since the layout looked cluttered. Luckily, the browser has gotten a very nice overhaul, bringing in new features, and a more simple way to navigate throughout the application. But don’t call it by its old name. It’s now called Dolphin Browser HD.
While it’s very similar to the current Dolphin Browser you can find on the Android Market, the HD version comes with a new handful of features, yet is unfortunately only for those running Android 2.0, or higher. Sound familiar? Eh that will be the case until Google addresses the fragmentation issues that its been plagued with for some time now, and it may never be completely addressed. But back to features. The HD Browser comes out swinging with tabbed windows that you can swipe, add-ons, themes, and the option to download YouTube videos.
A quick swipe to the left or right will bring up all open windows, and also has four action buttons, New Window, Close all, Add-ons, and Cancel. Aesthetically, it’s nice to see the menu you slide out from whichever direction you swiped, but it only adds minimal functionality. You can access your windows by scrolling up to the tabs on the top of the browser, but the thumbnail view it gives you is nice. It may show some overlapping functionality, but it’s nice that you can get to your windows, close them all if you want, or access your add-ons all from a single swipe gesture.
As with the regular Dolphin Browser, you can also use gestures to navigate to certain pages. The gesture option is always on the bottom left of the screen, and since it’s almost completely transparent, it doesn’t get in the way. Gestures can range from something as simple as going back for forward on a page, or loading up your own gestures to open one of your favorite websites (like IntoMobile). If that’s not your thing, you can hide the gesture tab all together if you’d like. I must admit, I never used gestures on the browser before, but I find them very useful now, and it adds a little more fun into the mix.
Dolphin Browser HD now supports add-ons and themes. While options for add-ons and themes are slim pickins’, it’s still nice to have those options. Some of the add-ons include Google Services, Del.icio.us Bookmarks, Read it Later, and a couple of Android RSS feeds. There is also a Twitter Share add-on, and a Bookmarks widget that some may find useful. I have a couple of these installed myself, but I stay pretty vanilla when it comes to my mobile web browsing, so I use these add-ons rarely. As far as themes go, there’s only one. It’s called Violet, and it doesn’t do much but make some menu options purple, or well, violet. I like the look of the browser as it is, which is sort of green and orange blur effect. Soon there will be many more options in the add-on and theme department.
While it can’t play Flash video like Skyfire, Dolphin Browser is my top pick for alternative Android web browsers. I’ve used the stock web browser from the beginning and never saw a reason to switch. Now that some viable alternatives are here, I’m happy to say that the Dolphin Browser HD is the Android web browser to beat.