Regular readers know that I’ve long been a fan of the Dolphin Browser HD for Android (s goog) smartphones and tablets. In February, I offered 8 reasons why it’s a “must try” for any Android device owner, and Monday, the free browser adds a new feature in conjunction with the launch of the software’s sixth version. Dolphin Browser HD still supports gestures, multiple tabs, and browser extensions, but now includes Webzine: a Flipboard-like, magazine layout style for reading web pages.
I upgraded to the new version 6 of Dolphin Browser HD on my Samsung Galaxy tab and had planned to spend a short bit of time using the software, but the Webzine feature kept me engaged longer than I planned. Adding content from websites I read — such as CNN (s twx), Fierce Wireless and Android Central — to my own personal webzine was as simple as tapping the “Add a column” icon. Doing so brings up a list of perhaps a few hundred sources, all categorized by topics such as “News,” “Science & Tech,” even “Social”, which adds a feed to Facebook and Twitter.
There’s also a search function if you know the name of a content provider. I don’t see a way to add any news sources however, say through an RSS feed, which is limiting. And the social feeds don’t seem to use screen space effectively: I see bunches of blank space, which could be due to using the software on a 7-inch tablet.
Aside from those limitations though, the Webzine feature is an enjoyable way to consume content. It’s simple to browse through article summaries, either by scrolling down the browser page or by swiping the page right to left. Tapping a story opens the full article in a pleasant format, but also includes a link to read the original article; touch the link and the story opens in a standard browser tab.
When reading the full article in Webzine mode, you can swipe to the next or prior article as well. Other handy navigation tools include buttons to go back, immediately jump to the top of an article, switch to standard browser mode or share an article through email or any other installed third-party social networking app. Pulling the page down refreshes the Webzine.
While the biggest new feature in this version of the Dolphin Browser is the Webzine function, the overall browsing experience provided by the software is still outstanding. All of my earlier reasons to use this third-party software to surf the web still apply, and the app seems as speedy as before, if not even faster.
If you’re using the stock browser on an Android smartphone or tablet, you owe it to yourself to try the new Dolphin Browser, even if the magazine style layout doesn’t sound appealing to you, Google’s Android Market indicates that the software has been downloaded between 5 and 10 million times. After getting a taste of the improved version, I expect Dolphin Browser to cross the 10 million download mark sooner rather than later. Ironically, that figure equates nicely with today’s $10 million in Series A funding news for the popular browser. Sequoia Capital led the funding round for MoboTap, the company behind the Dolphin Browser, with Matrix Partners also participating in the deal.