Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dolphin browser spring cleaning, gestures need a finishing touch


My favourite feature of Dolphin Browser HD is the custom gesture option. A swipe to switch tabs, an arrow to go to the next page, a cross to close the current tab, etc.

But when Dolphin decided to glue the gesture button to the bottom left corner without the old but useful option to move it to the other side I was not amused.

Fortunately Dolphin listened. The option to choose your own corner returned in the latest update of the app.

Almost perfect. It would be even better when I could choose different corners depending on whether I use my phone in portrait or landscape mode.

When you're right-handed, the bottom left corner is within easy reach of your thumb when you're phone is in portrait mode. In landscape mode things turn different. Now my thumb is close to the bottom right, and the bottom left is hard to reach. For left-handed people it's the other way 'round, which is why the position of frequently used buttons should always be left to the preferences of the user. As phone screens get bigger and bigger, the bottom right will be out of reach for the left-handed, and the right-handed won't reach the bottom left.

So Dolphin should expand its gesture button location settings. My choice would be "bottom left in portrait mode, bottom right in landscape view." If you're left-handed you'd want it the other way around. The best way would be to let us drag'n'drop the gesture button to our own preferred location on the screen, which could be different corners depending on the screen orientation.

Cleaning up

Dolphin cleaned up its user interface too. You can manage your bookmarks straight from the bookmarks bar. The quick access button is gone. That's not a big loss, because almost all of its functions are built into the menu. Except for one: your browsing history is buried in a counterintuitive place in the bookmarks bar, and you can't create a custom gesture for quick access to your history.

The gestures screen overlay could be a bit more transparent too.

Finally, sometimes you want to clean things up yourself, but Dolphin makes you tap way too much to throw out the trash. Clearing your cookies, passwords, history, etcetera requires a trip to the depths of the settings screen (this deserves a prominent place in the main menu!), and no matter what you select to throw out, Dolphin won't remember it. Next time you want to clean things up only the top three entries (cache, history, HTML5 data) are checked, and you have to retap everything else. Clearing the default entries takes six taps, zapping cookies and passwords takes even more.

But like all apps, Dolphin will be a work in progress forever. Let's see if future updates make the chore of cleaning up a bit less tedious. Maybe they can add a cookie manager too? And a Tapatalkblocker and a BugMeNot add-on? And and and...

Dolphin HD

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