Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iris Browser / The Reason I Sold My iPhone

When I first started this post, nearly a month ago, I wrote that Iris browser from Torch Mobile still feels a bit like a beta product. But development of Iris is proceeding at such a pace that this is no longer the case. Iris has always felt like a solid browser, ever since I first started using it at version 1.0, unlike iPhone's Safari which regularly crashed on me. Version 1.0 was all of two months ago now and since then virtually all of the issues that have niggled at me have been addressed (the one major one remaining being copy and paste* within the browser).

Iris BrowserWhen you first start using Iris you may find that the specifics of the user interface odd and even annoying, as my first email to the ever responsive Iris feedback address attests. However after you've been using it for a while these unique traits start to make sense. Clicking and holding to activate a link really helps to avoid accidental clicks, the resulting animation on the link itself, which I can only describe as a visual "boing", serves as Iris's own haptic feedback and the animation on moving/opening/closing tabs serves to inform you about what's going on, and I am assured that pages load while this is going on. Another great feature of Iris is the little inset scrolling window, which not only serves to show you where you are on the page but is also a very quick way to scroll around the page. It's unbelievably quick.

One of the best things about Iris is (was) that you get the iPhone gmail interface. Unfortuntely google, in their infinite wisdom, recently "improved" their User-Agent detection code which foobared Iris in that you no longer got the nice iPhone interface, but instead got the horrible (on such a large screen as the Touch HD) mobile interface. I noticed that this link from google calendar will still give you the iPhone interface (on any browser).

Having said all that, Iris isn't quite perfect. The click and hold isn't quite consistent, I think that some javascript actions happen immediately while others need the hold. Drop down lists appear so small as to be almost unusable, as previously mentioned there's no copy and paste within the browser and some of the user interface still isn't quite brilliant, see history and bookmarks and Opera does some stuff better, such as their auto-full screening and easy access tabs, back and home buttons.

A friend asked me to give a quick mention to W3's WCTMB test with its new canvas test, on which Iris scores 11 out of 16.

* You can actually copy a single word or whole link, and paste, by tapping and holding in the usual context menu way.

1 comment:

Kai Hendry said...

You failed to mention the test version and the UA string alongside the score...

I get 14/16 on revision 1.46 with version 1.1.7 of Iris on a HTC Tytyn II.