Mobile Browsers Battle

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Palm Pre Browser Matches Up Well With iPhone Safari

The Palm Pre's WebOS browser is a relatively recent entrant in the mobile browser arena, arriving in early June of this year. But the Pre's new mobile browser comes fully prepared for a battle royale with other leading smartphone browsers.

The opening screen of the Palm Pre's browser contains your bookmarks and a combination address-and-search bar at the top. When you start typing a URL, the Pre's browser will look through your visited sites and try to match the string you're typing to addresses you've typed previously--so with luck you won't have to type the whole thing more than once. If you enter a search term, the browser asks you whether you want to search Google or Wikipedia, and then it directs you to the relevant results.

After you enter the URL that you want to visit, a persistent loading-progress bubble appears at the bottom right of the screen, which then becomes a reload/stop button. A back/forward button floats at the bottom left of the screen. The page's title appears in a floating bubble at the top (it disappears when you scroll down).

Palm's WebOS browser uses a playing-card-metaphor interface to support swipe-based movement between tabs. Left to right: 1. The Palm Pre browser’s main browsing page with persistent back and reload buttons. 2. The integrated search bar with both Google and Wikipedia results and history. 3. Switching between open browser windows. 4. The browser window has no scroll bars to show your location on the page.
Like the iPhone's browser, the Palm Pre's browser can perform adaptive zooming when you double-tap a given area of the page. The transition during zooming isn't as smooth as on the iPhone, however. The Pre's browser doesn't display a scroll bar, so it gives you no way of knowing where you are on a page. You won't find a button on the Pre for switching tabs either, as Palm's playing-card metaphor requires you to open a new browser window from the menu launcher in order to open a new Web page. On the other hand, this method does allow you to load two pages side to side (or in the background).

Flicking through browser windows on the Pre works exactly the same as browsing through multiple open applications (also displayed as cards), with virtually no limit to how many pages you can open at the same time. You can also flick between open browser windows without being in card mode on the Pre, but only by flicking left/right on the touch-sensitive area underneath the screen (the option must be enabled from device settings).

One major shortcoming of the Pre's browser is that it doesn't let you save images. On the iPhone, when you tap and hold an image, the browser prompts you to save it.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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