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iPhone App Review: 360 Web Browser

iPhone App Review: 360 Web Browser

October 6th, 2010 by

For some reason there seems to be no shortage of browser alternatives for the iOS family of devices. While I recognize that mobile Safari isn’t the sexiest, sleekest, or fastest browser in the world, it certainly gets the job done. And in a mobile device that fits in the palm of your hand, what more could you want?

As it turns out, people seem to want a sexier, sleeker, and faster browser. Enter 360 Web Browser.


The 360 Web Browser offers several features that mobile Safari lacks. Privacy mode, full-screen browsing, and themes are probably the big three that will draw most people to give this browser a try. Two others are the ability to save pages for offline viewing, and the namesake user interface element, the wheel (360-degrees, get it?).

Default setup, green theme applied.

Privacy mode is self explanatory (and available in other alternative browsers), although this browser does what others don’t and gives you a simple button to tap to enter privacy mode for the current tab or all tabs. That’s a nice trick.

The inclusion of themes is great, and the app comes with two themes built in. Others can be purchased from within the app itself.

The full-screen browsing is the best reason to give this browser a shot, since Safari completely lacks this function (odd given that it’s designed for use on such a small screen).

The wheel interface elements are used in both standard and full-screen browsing, though you are obviously completely beholden to them when in full-screen mode. Tapping them brings up a wheel with several options, including your forward and back buttons, text magnification, and tab navigation. There are also sub-menus on some of the options, creating a multi-layered menu that tucks neatly out of the way when not in use. It’s a handy screen real estate saver.

Saving pages for offline viewing is obviously handy as well, and while it doesn’t save in a nice readable format like a third-party solution such as Instapaper, it may do the job well enough for you to save yourself that additional purchase. Saving pages saves images, CSS, and javascript, in an attempt to give you the full experience.

Options: dizzying.

The app also have such a full suite of settings options that you may feel like you’re using a full desktop browser. You have options for startup, default search engine, password and form data, ad block, and your standard set of options for speeding up browsing (page compression, disable images and javascript).

So, how does it all come together?

360 Web Browser is first and foremost a beautifully designed browser with well thought-out design choices, and a dizzying array of settings options that let you customize it almost any way you like.

The browser itself is fast. In my totally informal and unscientific tests I found it to load pages faster (using the default settings, images and javascript turned on, compression turned off) than mobile Safari by several seconds per page. One page took over twice as long in Safari to load than in 360, which was quite impressive. Most other pages were fairly close, so that may have simply been a lucky break.

The overall browsing experience is natural and intuitive. The default layout more or less adheres to the standard interface expectation set by mobile Safari, which I think is a good choice. Once you dig under the hood and start making changes is when it really takes off on its own.

Full screen mode is handled well, and is truly full screen. There are no user interface elements on the screen whatsoever, except two small buttons that will bring up your “wheels”. One wheel will show you your standard set of browsing buttons for going back, forward, home, bookmarks, etc. The other will bring up some less-used options like bookmarking, text zoom, and the ability to take you back out of full screen mode.

Same article, now full screen!

With the most recent update, they have fixed an issue with “flickering” that I had noticed on my iPhone 4. Now using the wheels in the “swipe” style works smoothly and efficiently, though I still have trouble seeing what each menu icon means since my finger covers the help text in the middle of the wheel.

You can change this option to a “tap” style wheel: you touch the wheel button, the wheel appears, you touch an option on the wheel, the option happens, the wheel disappears. This behavior is much more natural to me, though your particular mileage may vary. This tapping style also lets you see what each menu item does since you can just tap and lift your finger, allowing you to read the text label.

Should I switch?

2-for-1: Wheel and your startup page!

360 Web Browser is a very interesting take on full-screen browsing for the iPhone, and one that I’ll continue to experiment with. I think the minor bugs in the user interface I noted above can be worked out with a simple update. The nice choice the designers made was to give you basically two browsers in one: a revolutionary (sorry, that was not intended) new browser interface with a blistering array of customization and performance options, and a standard Safari-like browser with the exact same options available. If you like the look and feel of the browser that you see here, then you really can’t go wrong either way. The ability to save pages for offline reading alone is enough for me to keep it on my phone.


This review has really only scratched the surface of what the browser is capable of. I touched on the points that I thought most people would be most interested in, but it offers many more powerful options (like how about different browser rendering options, or having different options for each open tab?).

360 Web Browser is a beautiful app for fast web browsing, that offers several major features that mobile Safari does not. It has a couple of minor bugs that don’t take too much away from the overall positive experience.

Direct iTunes Link

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