29/09/2011

A closer look at Dolphin's gestural browser

We've got browsers coming out of out trousers these days. However Chrome, Safari, Mozilla or even (shudder) Explorer don't provide a very different UX from one another. Ultimately they are all comprised of the same elements. Since the introduction of tabbed browsing nothing has shifted dramatically.

This week Amazon have announced their take on the browser (via a very dull video). Apparently they have "redesigned the browser from the ground up". Supposedly the software is noticably more responsive and it's driven by their cloud hosting solution. But looking at the screenshot on CNet the interface it's pretty much a brown Safari

Some designers (including Mr Joe Leech and Henrik Eneroth) have even taken apon themselves to redesign the fundamentals of the browser UX.

With all of this in mind I was very keen to get my hands on the new gestural driven, tablet web browser  Dolphin from Mobotap. It comes with a small selection of pre-defined gestural shortcuts.


But it's very simple to create new ones. Just swipe away at the canvas and save it to your list. The only thing that feels a little clunky is having to tell the browser you are about to make a gesture. I had imagined this would be automatic, in order to create a more fluid experience. Perhaps they were concerned about mistaken gestures.

Beyond the ability to create your own gestures, the browser is well designed and has good blend between utilising the OS functions...
...and creating bespoke UI elements. Their take on tabs is very graceful indeed.

The default homepage design a owes a debt to Flipboard, but also includes your favourites. It's a brilliantly well thought out start point for the browsing experience.

All in all Dolphin is highly successful piece of work. At the moment it only exsists in iOS and I guess any forward thinking product team would be keeping focus on handheld devices for now. Hopefully the team at Mobotap will be able to develop what they have without getting consumed by the big guns.