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Summary:

Making a truly good third-party browser for the iPhone or iPad is difficult because of Apple’s iOS development restrictions. You basically have to create a Safari clone, with some extras thrown in. Cyberspace is a new contender that manages to set itself apart from the crowd.

cyberspace

Making a truly good third-party browser for the iPhone or iPad is difficult because of Apple’s iOS development restrictions. You basically have to create a Safari clone, with some extras thrown in. Cyberspace is a new contender that manages to set itself apart from the crowd.

Surprisingly, it does so not by adding very much, but by taking quite a bit away. Cyberspace is designed to simplify the web browsing experience in much the same way that Safari’s new reader view does: It reduces web pages to their most basic elements for easier consumption. And while I find Safari’s reader feature useful, it’s even more of a boon to mobile browsing.

Cyberspace does the bulk of its amazing work thanks to the Instapaper Mobilizer-powered Text mode and Readability bookmarklet, both of which help to reduce the clutter on text-focused websites, providing you with two options for getting rid of things like graphics and sidebars to read the actual content you came to the site to find in the first place. Both can be used with regular mobile Safari, but they require far more steps. With Cyberspace, Text mode is always one click away, and Readability is only three, and neither requires any additional setup.

The browser does its work very quickly, and without any annoying customized chrome elements that some other third-party solutions have chosen to go with. And even though the UI is minimal and plain, it’s still quite powerful. As mentioned, you can switch between Full and Text views with one tap, establish and access a queue if you’re planning on reading a number of things in succession, add bookmarks with a single click, and access both local and social bookmarks all from the main screen.

Other perks that Cyberspace offers include an amazing recommendation engine for the search/URL bar, which draws from different sources including Google and responds nearly instantly. The app also provides a “Switch Keyboard” button that lets you change between iOS’ URL and search field contextual keyboards with a single click. It’s much more elegant that providing two separate text entry fields for search and URLs, like mobile Safari does.

Finally, Cyberspace lets you share to Instapaper, Read It Later, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Delicious, Pinboard and Google Reader quickly and easily, and provides a scratchpad within the app so you can keep notes for yourself while browsing. Those notes can be sent to Pastebot, and shared to Twitter and Facebook, or via email.

Cyberspace will cost you $1.99, but it’s a universal app optimized for both iPhone and iPad, and it packs so many features that $2 is worth the time you’d save trying to set up mobile Safari to emulate even half of its functionality. If you do a lot of reading on the web, or even just a lot of mobile browsing and sharing via social networks, then Cyberspace is an absolute must-buy.

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  1. Hamranhansenhansen Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    > Making a truly good third-party browser for the iPhone or iPad
    > is difficult because of Apple’s iOS development restrictions.

    No, it is easier. You don’t have to create your own TCP/IP stack, you don’t have to create your own HTML5 decoder, you don’t have to create your own CSS or JavaScript engine, you don’t have to create your own MPEG-4 decoder, or color management, or work around a non-Unix operating system. All you have to do is create the actual browser, the parts your user will touch.

    This is not my opinion. We are literally talking about reducing a team of hundreds of developers and QA testers to a handful of people. We’re talking about 1% if the developer hours. That is *easier* by every single definition.

    You don’t even have to put up a download server, and you can sell your browser for $2.99 instead of free. EASIER.

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    1. Thank you for making sense.

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    2. Yeah, I was going to say, this is why a lot of browsers on OS X use Webkit as well. The heavy lifting is being done by Apple and the open source community. The people who make the browser can concentrate on the browser itself and not worry about all the rendering.

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  2. Does it block ads like iCabMobile?

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    1. Hi Adam,

      Cyberspace does block ads by default. One of my aims was to provide the best mobile reading experience, hence you’ll find many small yet useful features in Cyberspace.

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