I admit it, I do a lot of web browsing on my tablet. I’ve tried nearly every browser on the market, and while the built-in Android browser tops the list in stability, there are many browsers out there with little added bonuses that make them appealing. There are some browsers that bring so many features to the table that it’s almost impossible to discern which features are actually useful on a tablet. Then there are browsers, like Maxthon, that have just the right amount of tablet-friendly features that make it simple to use, yet a rich enough experience to make you second guess your default browser.
Let’s take a peek at Maxthon on your 10″ Android tablet.
Maxthon offers a version of their browser for both Android and the Windows desktop. Why is this important? You get a simple, built-in bookmarks sync with a free Maxthon account, so you can install/use the Maxthon browser on your Windows machine and keep your bookmarks in sync. It should be said that the Windows version of Maxthon has quite a bit more in the feature set than the tablet version. This can get a bit confusing as the promotional copy for the browsers seem to mix and match features at times. For example, you can not easily switch between the WWW and WAP versions of web sites on the tablet Maxthon. But what it doesn’t have isn’t the point. Here are the things that Maxthon does offer:
- Easy to use gestures
- Restore last closed tab
- Speed Dial gives you instant access to you favorite sites
- Share sites from Speed Dial via MMS, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Bluetooth, and more
- Enable/disable gesture trail
- Switch between fullscreen/window mode easily
- Redesigned UI
Let me touch base with the features I believe make this a stand-out browser for tablets.
Gestures on a tablet make perfect sense. After all, multi-touch input was made for gestures. Tablet users don’t want to have to mix their metaphors and click tiny Xs to close a tab or open a new tab. Instead, with a flip of the finger, you can move to the last tab, restore the last closed tab, close the current tab, open a new tab, and move to the next tab. Figure A illustrates the gestures for those actions.
These are all the included gestures available to Maxthon.
You will notice that, as you draw gestures, there is a yellow trail that follows your finger. At first, you might want this so you get instant feedback on the gesture you drew. This can help to ensure you are gesturing properly. Once you have a knack for getting the gestures right, you can turn the trail off. To do that, tap on the menu (near the upper right corner, under the “+” symbol), and then tap Options | Browser Settings | Gesture Settings, and then select Enable Gesture Without Yellow Trail.
In the lower left corner of the browser window (see Figure B), you will notice two buttons: Refresh and Full Screen. These buttons allow quick access to one particular feature I find incredibly useful to browsing on a tablet — full screen mode.
If the full screen button isn’t visible, tap anywhere on the screen, and it will appear.
Figures C and D illustrate the difference between window and full screen mode in Maxthon.
Here is TechRepublic as seen in window mode.
When in full screen mode, you can switch back to window mode by simply tapping the same icon. If the icon isn’t visible, tap the screen, and it will appear.
Here is TechRepublic as seen in full screen mode.
As of now, there are only five add-ons to Maxthon:
- RSS Reader: Manage RSS Threads
- Bookmark Backup: Backup bookmarks to SD card
- Task Manager: Kill processes
- Web Snapshot: Save web snapshots to SD card
- File Manager: Copy, cut, paste files
When you try to add a particular add-on, Maxthon will take you to the Android Market where you can download and install the add-on. The one add-on I really wanted was the Bookmark Backup, but it wasn’t available at the time of this writing. To access the add-ons, do the following:
- Open the Maxthon menu by tapping the upper right icon
- Tap Add-ons
- Tap the Add button
- Tap the download button associated with the add-on you want to include (see Figure E)
- Now install the add-on from the Android Market as you would any other app
The Web Snapshot is actually quite a handy little add-on.
Although Maxthon isn’t perfect, it’s one of those tablet-friendly apps that you’ll find yourself using more and more. With just a few nice features (and an easy to navigate UI) Maxthon makes browsing on a tablet a very simple task.