Apple App Store Approves 3rd Party iPhone Web Browsers, BUT...

It looks like Apple has begin to approve some 3rd party web browsers for the iPhone. Like the (Jobs save us) "fart" apps that were pulled or pending for a long while only to flood the market on some magic-8-ball decided day, some of these web browsers were biding their time in the App Store approval queue for a good long while according to MacRumors:

 Edge Browser (Free) - No loss of screen real estate to the address or navigation bars. Incognito ($1.99) - Now you can browse without leaving a history of any kind. WebMate:Tabbed Browser ($0.99) - Web Mate simplifies browsing by queuing up all the links you click on, then allowing you to view them one by one when you're ready. And Shaking Web ($1.99) - adds a sophisticated algorithm to compensate small hand shaking to allow for easier reading.

BUT (you did see the big old BUT in the headline, right), those thinking, hoping, praying, or reporting that these are actually alternative rendering engines need to back on up a second. To the best of our knowledge, these are merely different UI implementations of the built-in iPhone WebKit rendering engine, much like those already used in Twitterrific, 1Password, and other long-ago approved Apps. The only difference -- that TiPb can tell -- is that these are stand-alone iPhone WebKit implementations (like MobileSafari, though more limited due to SDK restrictions and non-default status).

So, no Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or (Jobs save us again!) IE 6 for the iPhone just yet, okay?

Still, for those who want different user experiences and features, well, now you can go get them! Anyone try one yet?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple App Store Approves 3rd Party iPhone Web Browsers, BUT...


Although i dont condone such anarchy,
I do agree that no web browser can come close to mobile safari. And they probably wont for a few years.
Its been months since i used my ipod touch (i gifted it to my grandmother) and yet whenever im at my desktop i keep wishing firefox had some of the mobile safari tricks, like tap the top bar and it goes to the top :D

Safari is great. I like the idea of new UI's being allowed, but there are so many great mobile websites being based around webkit, that might not happen if we go back to fragmented browsers.

Once again Apple is making the same mistake with the iPhone/Touch that it made in the early 90's with the II/Mac systems. Over controlled, over regulated, an early lead that will quickly evaporate.

Absolutely stupid. It's like a restaurant having three different brands of mustard on the table.

Its a step in the right direction but not really a problem for me. In my humble view, limiting third-party apps is what keeps Apple's quality so high in default mode.

Why have a choppy Opera or Stiffy FireFox?! Safari is the very best you can get on any computer platform. Period. So quit hoping do something you already have and then some!

I downloaded Edge on my laptop, but it won't sync to my iPod... I agree with everyone else that there's nothing wrong with the functioning of mobile Safari. But if I could just get a hiding navigation bar, (or even transparent nav soft keys) I'd be in heaven. With so little screen real estate in a mobile, there's no excuse for using 15 some odd rows of pixels with a nav bar.

Apple should just add in a flash support for their browser. Other than that i dont see the need for a new browser as safari is made in mind for the iphone anyways. so i guess the general ruling is add what is good and dont fix what is not broken.

Any Webkit browsers on the iPhone are severly limited. They cannot open links that use javascript to open a new page. This breaks a lot of websites for any third party browsers on the iPhone! Of course Safari does not suffer from this particular flaw.

Great article! I just saw these at Target the other day and was impressed. Your review answered the questions I had about the seats – now I just need to scrape together the cash! Ouch!