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Posts tagged with "browser"

Vivaldi for iOS Updated with Colorful Themes and Ability to Force Dark Mode

When I first reviewed Vivaldi for iOS back in October, I was disappointed by the small number of customization features that were available in the app at launch. This was especially remarkable since Vivaldi Browser is mostly known on the desktop for its emphasis on UI customization and advanced features. In the iOS version of the app, you couldn’t change the color of the tab bar, nor could you customize the new tab page with a background image.

Today, however, Vivaldi on iOS was updated to version 6.6, which brings the ability to customize the app’s user interface with colorful themes. You can now choose from a handful of pre-selected colors, use the native iOS color picker, and even opt to have the accent color of the UI dynamically change based on the site you’re currently viewing. Additionally, you can now also set a custom background image for the new tab page. Combined with the ability to move the tab bar to the bottom of the screen, these new features bring the iOS version much closer to what we’ve come to expect from Vivaldi, at least in terms of appearance settings.

Vivaldi 6.6 also comes with a new setting to force dark mode on web pages that do not natively support it. As a big fan of Noir, a Safari extension that does just that, I am super glad to see this feature being implemented in more third-party web browsers.

Vivaldi on iOS is still in its early days, and it’s missing many of the capabilities of its desktop counterpart when it comes to tab management, including tab grouping. But I still believe the app can establish its niche on the iPhone if it keeps steadliy gaining more of these quality-of-life and customization features.

If you feel like giving the updated Vivaldi a try, the app is available for free on the App Store today.


The Browser Company Announces Act II for Arc: ‘The Browser That Browses For You’

Today, The Browser Company announced a selection of new features coming to their Arc browser for Mac as part of what they are billing ’Act II’ of their increasingly popular app. There are four features in total, centered around the theme of ‘the browser that browses for you.’

For those unfamiliar, Arc started as a Mac browser built around the Chromium code base with eye-catching features like tabs listed down the side, Split View, built-in ‘easels’ and notes, and the ability to adjust the visual look of webpages. Arc is now targeting what CEO Josh Miller has called ‘a post-Google Internet’ by implementing AI within the browsing experience, amongst other strategies.

Current ‘Arc Max’ AI features like ‘Ask On Page,’ which answers questions about the contents of webpages, and ‘5 Second Previews’, which summarises a webpage at the other end of a link, have all proved to be hits with users.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Arc. I would even call their ‘Shared Quotes’ feature my favorite ‘little’ feature in any browser right now. The Browser Company has big ambitions for 2024, including an imminent launch on Windows, and Miller had this to say about Arc’s next step:

“Here is our vision. It’s really simple. You tell Arc what to do, and Arc will go and do it for you.”

It’s a very broad statement, but with the new features announced today, the context of what he is saying comes more into focus. Two of these new features are available today, with the other two coming soon. Let’s take a look at them in detail.

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Arc Search Review: My New Default iPhone Browser

Arc Search for iPhone.

Arc Search for iPhone.

Every once in a while, I come across a new app whose design, feature set, or combination of the two redefines my expectations for a particular category of software. The new Arc Search app for iPhone, which is launching today on the App Store as a separate app from The Browser Company’s previous Arc Companion utility, is one of those experiences.

From the first moment I tried Arc Search for iOS, I knew I wanted to use it as my default iPhone browser. And the reason isn’t because Arc Search does more than Safari (there’s actually a long list of missing features that I’ll cover below), but because despite offering less functionality, the essence of how Arc Search rethinks one-handed web browsing on a phone is so refined and thoughtful, going back to another browser feels like a downgrade.

Arc Search has a long way to go to become a full-featured, mature browser for iOS, and it doesn’t even come with an iPad counterpart yet. But, at the same time, it’s the best take on mobile web browsing I’ve seen in years.

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Apple Shares List of Alternate Browsers That Will Be Available to EU Users in iOS 17.4

One element of the changes coming to iOS in the European Union is that beginning with iOS 17.4, EU users will see a choice of browsers when they first launch Safari that can be set as the systemwide default browser. For each country, that list will contain the 12 most popular browsers from its App Store storefront displayed to the user in a random order.

As you can imagine, there is overlap among EU member countries, but there are plenty of differences, too. If you’re curious which browsers will be listed in your country, check out the lists for each of the 27 EU member countries after the break that Apple has told us will appear the first time Safari is launched in iOS 17.4.

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The Vision Pro’s Most Important App Is Safari

Interesting perspective by David Pierce, writing for The Verge, on how, for the time being, Vision Pro users may have to use Safari to access popular services more than they anticipated:

But what if you don’t need the App Store to reach Apple users anymore? All this corporate infighting has the potential to completely change the way we use our devices, starting with the Vision Pro. It’s not like you can’t use Spotify on the headset; it’s just that instead of tapping a Spotify app icon, you’ll have to go to Spotify.com. Same for YouTube, Netflix, and every other web app that opts not to build something native for the Vision Pro. And for gamers, whether you want to use Xbox Game Pass or just play Fortnite, you’ll also need a browser. Over the last decade or so, we’ve all stopped opening websites and started tapping app icons, but the age of the URL might be coming back.

If you believe the open web is a good thing, and that developers should spend more time on their web apps and less on their native ones, this is a big win for the future of the internet. (Disclosure: I believe all these things.) The problem is, it’s happening after nearly two decades of mobile platforms systematically downgrading and ignoring their browsing experience. You can create homescreen bookmarks, which are just shortcuts to web apps, but those web apps don’t have the same access to offline modes, cross-app collaboration, or some of your phone’s other built-in features. After all this time, you still can’t easily run browser extensions on mobile Safari or mobile Chrome. Apple also makes it maddeningly complicated just to stay logged in to the services you use on the web across different apps. Mobile platforms treat browsers like webpage viewers, not app platforms, and it shows.

As we saw when we surveyed the state of apps already submitted to the visionOS App Store, more companies than we expected have – for now – decided not to offer their apps on the Vision Pro, either in the form of native visionOS apps or iPad apps running in compatibility mode.

I think that “for now” is key here: if visionOS proves to be a successful platform in the long term (and early sales numbers for the Vision Pro seem encouraging), most companies won’t be able to afford ignoring it. And why would they? If the users are there, why shouldn’t they provide those users with a better app experience?

This idea is predicated upon the assumption that native apps still offer a superior app experience compared to their web counterparts. The tide has been turning over the past few years. Workflows that would have been unthinkable in a web browser until a few years ago (such as design and collaboration) can now live in a browser; the most popular AI service in the world is literally a website; the resurgence of browsers (with Arc arguably leading the space) proves that a new generation of users (who likely grew up with Chromebooks in school) doesn’t mind working inside a browser.

With this context in mind, I think Apple should continue improving Safari and extend its capabilities on visionOS. My understanding is that, in visionOS 1.0, Safari cannot save PWAs to the user’s Home Screen; I wouldn’t be surprised if that feature gets added before visionOS 2.0.

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Quiche Browser Is a Beautiful and Modular Web Browser for iOS

As part of my ongoing experiment with third-party web browsers for the iPhone, I recently stumbled upon a new indie browser for iOS, which I was instantly drawn to thanks to its adorable name. Quiche Browser is a beautiful browser developed by Greg de J that focuses on UI modularity and small quality-of-life enhancements. The app has surprised me with its great design, and one unexpected use case.

In Quiche Browser, every button can be moved and customized. If you are not the kind of person who likes to tweak the placement of every interface element, this may sound overwhelming. Fortunately, Quiche Browser lets you pick from the ‘Toolbar Gallery’, a collection of toolbar presets that you can customize and adjust. This is an excellent way to quickly get started with your preferred preset, and also to learn how you can customize Quiche’s look, whether you want a fully-featured toolbar or a minimalistic look.

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Vivaldi for iOS Is Not Delivering on Its Promise Just Yet

Third-party web browsers on iOS and iPadOS have been in a peculiar state for some time. While it has been possible since iOS 14 to set a third-party browser as the default for opening web links, Apple still doesn’t permit the use of third-party browser enginesat least for now. This means third-party web browsers on iOS are essentially limited to serving as custom user interfaces built on top of the Safari engine.

However, some web browsers thrive in this space. Vivaldi, like many other web browsers on the desktop, is built on top of the Chromium engine and has become a staple of highly-customizable desktop web browsers. With its recent expansion to iOS, I thought I would try using it for a week to see how much of its desktop promise survived the port to Apple’s platform.

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One Week After Launch, Users Already Have Several Options for Alternative Browsers and Email Clients on iOS and iPadOS 14

iOS and iPadOS’s 14’s customization options don’t end at widgets. The OS updates also let users change their default email and browser apps for the first time. The feature is a little buggy in iOS and iPadOS 14.0, but I wanted to share how to set it up and explain what your current options are for anyone looking to switch away from the default Safari and Mail apps from Apple.

Switching is simple. The first step is to download a browser or email client that has been approved to serve as an alternative to Apple’s defaults. Developers must request permission to offer their apps as an alternative browser or email app, meeting certain requirements for each type of app. It’s an extra step in the app submission process, so not all browsers and email apps can be swapped in for Safari and Mail from the get-go. Still, less than a week after the public release of iOS and iPadOS 14, users have several options.

Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Google Chrome are all default browser and email client options now.

Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Google Chrome are all default browser and email client options now.

New alternatives are being released all the time, but so far, it’s possible to swap out Safari for:

Probably the most popular browser that hasn’t been approved as a Safari alternative yet is Brave, the privacy-focused browser, although The Verge reports that the feature is coming.

Email apps available include:

Between the two quartets of alternatives, a significant portion of the browser and email markets have been covered already.

Picking a new default browser or email client from the Settings app.

Picking a new default browser or email client from the Settings app.

Getting back to the process of switching apps, once you’ve installed one of the approved alternatives, go to the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad. Scroll down to the entry for the app you’ve just downloaded, and tap it. There you’ll find a new entry for ‘Default Mail App’ or ‘Default Browser App,’ depending on which you’re changing. Tap it and pick the alternative you want to use, and that’s it.

As easy as the process of switching is, though, the feature is not bug-free. I have been unable to get iOS or iPadOS to recognize my new default email client after I switch it. I’ve tried several apps and email links in multiple apps and on the web, but every time I tap one, the system Apple Mail-based compose sheet opens. Federico has had the same issue. I read somewhere that switching email apps only works if you change your browser first, but that didn’t work for me either. Perhaps MacStories readers will have better luck than I’ve had, but at the moment, I cannot change email clients.

9to5Mac also reported last week that if you restart your iPhone or iPad, any default browser or email changes you’ve made are lost. It’s not hard to reset your defaults, but it’s an annoying bug that I expect will be fixed in a later update to iOS and iPadOS 14.

Personally, I use both Safari and Mail and am happy with them, though I wish Mail would adopt some of the modern features of apps like Spark. Still, I’m glad users have been given greater choice when it comes to the default app experience.


iOS and iPadOS 14 Users Can Now Set Google Chrome as the Default Browser

Apple is hosting its first fall event in a matter of days, and a public release for all the company’s latest OS updates is expected to follow not long after. However, today anyone using the beta versions of those updates can benefit from a new feature ahead of time: setting Google Chrome as the default browser on iPhone and iPad.

iOS and iPadOS 14 both include the ability to set a third-party browser or email app as the system default, replacing Safari and Mail. Up until now, however, beta users couldn’t yet try the feature because it’s usually not possible for third-party apps to support new OS features until after the beta cycle is complete. That’s not the case with Chrome, though, which as of its latest update can now be configured as the default iOS and iPadOS browser. You have to be running the iOS or iPadOS 14 beta for this to work, but if you are, all you have to do is visit Settings ⇾ Chrome ⇾ Default Browser App to make the change.

Once Chrome is set as your default, any link you tap systemwide will open in Chrome rather than Safari. It’s that simple. Whether you’re opening a link in an app like Messages or even from inside Siri results, the OS will always launch links directly in Chrome. The one point of friction that remains is apps that use Safari View Controller as an in-app browser rather than sending you to a separate app when you tap a link. Slack, for example, behaves this way. Fortunately, all you have to do is hit the Safari-inspired icon inside Safari View Controller that sits next to the share icon and the page will open in Chrome.

Now that Chrome supports this new iOS and iPadOS 14 feature, we may start seeing other browser apps and even email clients debut updated versions that can be set as defaults. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gmail follow Chrome’s lead before long.