When you want more than tabs…

I’m a real collector — of web browsers.  Any computer that I own has a nice collection so that I can always test anything with a variety of browsers.  It lets you get to the end experience for any resource that you publish to the web so that I can make sure that no matter how somebody visits my site, they’re going to get a decent experience.  I’m also in search of the absolutely perfect, drop dead browsing experience.

The iPad is no different.  I’m in search of the perfect browser and so have an entire folder devoted to browsers that I’ve tried out looking for the perfect combination of features.

Here’s my current collection.

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It all started with the desire to get something that suits me better than the Safari that comes with the iPad.  Long before the current incarnation, I was in search of a browser that would give me some tabbed browsing.  If you’re a user of different browsers on the iPad you may recognize the titles.

This past week, I took a different angle when I downloaded and played around with the Side by Side browser.  It takes the notion of accessing different websites at the same time via tabs into a different direction.  Instead of separate tabs for browsing windows, this browser splits the screen a number of different ways.  In the image below, I’ve split my screen into four to show off my Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, and Delicious accounts.

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My original thought was that this was kind of small until I realized that each was roughly the same browsing real estate that one would have if you were using an iPod Touch.  But here, I’ve got four of them.  I took to this approach surprisingly easily.  This tabbed browsing dude liked seeing all the screens at once.  I also realized that when I use a tabbed browser, I have a habit of forgetting about an open tab.  I started using it and really liked what I’ve got.  Tapping in a window makes it active and you can scroll around.  A double tap expands the contents for easier reading – although you do need to scroll around a little more.  When you need a little more real estate, click on the little dot in the centre to reset the intersection point.  So, you aren’t necessarily locked into equal sized windows.  In fact, if you need the room, flip immediately to full screen!  You’ve got all the standard tools like browsing forth and back, reload, and a collection of favourites already seeded with some great starting points.

So, having the split windows was enough to make me consider this as a browser of choice.  A built in notebook and screen grab adds to the excitement but I’m over the top when I tap the “Open In…” button.

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Access to these things on my iPad have me salivating thinking about the productivity this affords.  You can imagine how fickle I can be due to browsers given my collection.  For the time being at least, this one has me really excited.

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