The Third Device

A blog about the iPad.

Product Review: Atomic Web Browser

Web surfing on the iPad is undeniably one of the coolest things you can do with it. The screen size and shape is just right for the task, the processor is speedy enough to keep up with your every gesture *pinch! swipe! zoom, flick!* and for the most part (cough, no Flash, cough) it’s a fulfilling experience.

However the onboard Safari web browser doesn’t quite maximize the iPad’s capabilities, especially if you consider yourself a power surfer. For that, I’d like to direct you to a nifty application called Atomic Web Browser.

Atomic does a whole bunch of amazing stuff that Safari can’t do. To wit:

– fullscreen mode

– tabbed mode (a real tabbed mode, not the pseudo-Expose switching that Safari uses to manage multiple pages) – just hold down a link to open in a new tab

– rotation lock

– private mode

– font increase/decrease

– color themes

Tabbed browsing FTW!

And mind you, all of the features enumerated above are those that appear in the free Lite version! I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading right now and clicked on this link to go download it. Go ahead, I don’t mind.

But if you choose to read on (and perhaps pay a measly $0.99) then the full version gets you even more cool features:

– multi touch gesture support (swipe with two fingers back and forth to switch between tabs, tap with three fingers to jump in and out of fullscreen. I absolutely love this feature)

– save pages with images for offline viewing

– spoof your browser identity as Desktop Safari, IE, Firefox, etc.

– passcode lock to launch Atomic Web Browser

When you do install Atomic Web Browser, you’ll need to spend some tinkering with the extensive Settings page. This is where you can configure almost every aspect of the app to make it suit your needs. One of the first steps will be to import your existing bookmarks. Unfortunately there’s no way to grab them straight from the iPad’s Safari app – you have to export them from your computer’s browser (Safari or otherwise), upload them to Atomic’s website, and then tell Atomic to grab them from the server. A little convoluted, but it’s ideally a one-time process.

Once you get up and running, you’ll find that Atomic is a delight to use. I urge you to try opening multiple tabs and swiping from one to the other (if you’re using the paid version) – it’s very satisfying. So is drumming your fingers to zip in and out of fullscreen as you surf, or you can just set Atomic to automatically go fullscreen once the whole page has finished loading. You can deploy a whole slew of customizable buttons at the bottom of the page to help you issue commands in fullscreen mode, and even scale back their transpararencies so they don’t affect your browsing experience.

Fullscreen, glorious fullscreen

One minor gripe is that when I tap the address bar and start typing a new URL, Atomic is not smart enough to wipe everything and start anew – it appends your typing to the existing URL. Safari gets that right. Another potential pitfall: unless you enable the system clock/battery bar at the top of the screen, there seems to be no way to jump back to the top of a webpage in fullscreen mode.

Other  caveats: Atomic does not replace Safari as the default system browser, so Safari will always launch if you click on a URL in your email. You also can’t save a bookmark to the home screen as an icon the way you can with Safari.

There’s a whole bunch more I can write about Atomic, but considering you can get it for free (or next to free) you might as well go ahead and download it to see if you like it. I’m betting you will.


May 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Excellent writing, Vic! 🙂

    I’ve just tried Plants Vs Zombies on my mom-in-law’s iPad. Big mistake. Now I *want* an iPad too! (Ria: “Para lang sa Plants Vs. Zombies?!?”)

    Comment by Dex | June 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Hahaha. PvZ. The “gateway” app.

      Comment by Vic | June 2, 2010 | Reply

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