I think Safari on the iPad is actually pretty good. However, there were always things that I missed from its desktop counterpart such as real tabbed browsing and file downloads. Best App Site reader "Bill" suggested that I try this App and he felt that it was a "Best App" candidate. OMG! Bill was dead on. Although iCab Mobile is a Universal App for all iOS devices it really sings on the iPad. When I use iCab it feels like I'm running the features of full Safari on my iPad. iCab Mobile has it all:
- Tabbed Browsing
- File Downloads
- Dropbox Integration
- Auto Form Fill-in
- Full Screen Mode – maximizing your view and hiding the UI
- Guest Mode – something that iOS desperately needs
- Ad blocking
- and more
The most important things to me were the tabbed browsing and ability to do a file download right in the iPad browser as you would on your desktop. You can then send that file to a compatible app on your iPad to view or process. For example, I was able to download a .ZIP file from one of my sites and then send it over to AirSharing HD which unzipped it and gave me access to contents. Sweet! One of the things you obviously won't have is automatic syncing of your Safari bookmarks on your desktop. However, iCab Mobile offers you a clever way to get them on your iPad. Using your free Dropbox account you can export your bookmarks from your desktop browser (it doesn't have to be Safari, I used Google Chrome) to "Bookmarks.html" in your iCab Mobile folder in your Dropbox folder and then import them into the App. It worked great!
Once I moved beyond the couple of features I was interested in I began to explore the iCab Mobile browser further and I discovered an awesome number of preferences that the user can control. I also quickly fell in love with full-screen mode. One of the other cool features is that you can set a "Browser ID" preference to emulate one of the proper desktop browsers. This is great for getting past sites that insist upon serving up certain pages based on the browser they think you're using. For example, even Apple's on MobileMe (www.me.com) is not accessible via Mobile Safari. They insist you use your built-in Apps instead. By setting iCab Mobile's Browser ID to emulate Safari 5 on the Mac I was able to sign in to my MobileMe account via the browser with no problem.
This browser has it all and it has replaced Safari on my iPad dock as my go to browser from here on out. If there was a way to set it as my default iPad browser, I would! It makes the Safari mobile browser feel very "basic".