Here’s what I want in a third-party browser in iOS 4 and iOS 5

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Safari logo

A number of third party browsers have been developed and released for Apple’s iOS. Despite the requirement that they must use WebKit, most of the browsers have executed some pretty interesting ideas and provided a lot of enhancements over the basic Safari browser found in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Some of the browsers off the top of my head:

  • Atomic Browser
  • Dolphin Browser
  • iCab
  • Mercury Browser

What I would love to see is them offer some extra enhancements that would seriously make me switch. What are some of these enhancements?

  • TextExpander support: A number of applications (mostly text editors) have been released for iOS that take advantage of TextExpander. I would love to see this added to browsers! I do most of my work in a browser window each day anyway, and on the desktop, TextExpander has been a completely critical feature.
  • 1Password: If 1Password could find a way to allow other applications to user their database / keychain for passwords (similar to how other apps can use TextExpander macros), this would be huge! I use it all the time to ensure that I have completely random passwords, and if any one site is compromised, I don’t lose access to everything. The 1Password app on iOS is well done, but I don’t want to use their built-in browser. If there was a way I could access the passwords from another browser, this would be huge!
  • Xmarks: Xmarks has been an important tool for me when keeping all my browser bookmarks in sync between Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on the laptop. Why not bring that over a third party browser in iOS? If this was available in any third party browser, it would instantly become my go-to browser.
  • Ability to set a default browser in iOS: (Sadly, it will take Apple to build in this feature — there’s no way developers or users can do this short of jailbreaking) I’ll admit, having the option of running third-party browsers in iOS is pretty damn nice. But it still feels like a kludgy hack when you open a URL in any other application in iOS. It always goes to Safari, without fail. If there were a way to set a custom default browser in the system preferences, this would be awesome!

What sorts of other features do you want to see in third party browsers that they don’t currently offer (and aren’t offered in Safari)?