x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

App of the Week: Browser takes its cues from your index finger

Curt Brandao reviews a smartphone browser that understands what you mean after you draw it a picture.

Dolphin Browser
Dolphin Browser

Most geeks are creatures of habit. This explains why we've worn the same brand of trainers since we were 11, why we still watch those Ugly Betty DVDs in secret even though our wives already caught us that one time, and why so many of us still thumb entire URLs into our mobile devices even though we know several shortcuts have been out there for quite some time (as fun as awkwardfamilyphotos.com is once you get there, you really need to clear your afternoon calendar if you insist on surfing to it the hard way each time).

The app

Fortunately, there's a solution to the backslash-underscore-brackets keyboard quagmire that our mobile-phone browsers mire us in - an improved browser altogether.

Dolphin Browser (free, iPhone, Android) not only offers many of the comforts of computer-based browsing (tabs, bookmarks, sidebars, etc), but it also allows you to navigate to your favourite websites by simply drawing a symbol associated with it on your screen.

The details

The Dolphin Browser comes preloaded with several gestures it can recognise - draw a backward "C" to refresh a page, a greater than (>) or less than (<) sign to go back or forth, and so on.

Using the app’s gesture engine is a two-step process: tap the hand icon on the bottom of the browser screen and then draw your command in the space provided. The browser then automatically loads the bookmarked URL or performs the action that is associated with the symbol.

To pre-programme your favourite URLs or browser functions, just tap on the “New Gesture” tab on the top right and a menu comes up allowing you to personalise the system. Key in the Web address for each of your favourite sites (hopefully for the last time) and then draw a related gesture that the browser will from then on recognise and act upon accordingly.

Unfortunately, many of the most obvious gestures are already taken, but the app allows you to substitute any preloaded circle or zigzag duty assignment with one of your own.

Through Dolphin Browser, not only can you surf to all your usual spots (Facebook, Twitter, etc) without a keyboard, you barely even need to focus your eyes on your smartphone’s screen until there’s something there you want to see.

Dolphin Browser serves up almost everything we lazy geeks could ever want and, quibbles aside, it’s hard to complain.

Yes, I suppose we still need to lift a finger – but just barely.

cbrandao@thenational.ae