Puffin 3.1 Web Browser Gets Speed Boost And Interface Makeover – ‘Book Mystique Review

If you’ve ever checked out the Puffin browser for iOS, you know it’s fast, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried out the latest version, Puffin 3. Puffin’s developers at CloudMosa describe version 3 as “wicked fast,” borrowing a term originally used in reference to the hulking desktop supremacy Mac IIFX back in the early ’90s. It’s no exaggeration. Puffin 2.x was impressively lively, but Puffin 3 — zowee! The CloudMosa folks have found a way to give Puffin 3 an energizing injection of elixir de lapin.

Puffin’s other marquee feature — Flash video support — is also back with version 3, and it’s still molto cool, but even without that video facilitating convenience, Puffin is one of my favourite iOS Web browsers, distinguished by its deep feature set and, unmatched speed thanks to connecting through a massive Cloud computing data center proxy server that pre-processes Web pages, this system not only accelerates page rendering speed, but also reduces network data bandwidth usage. Puffin’s speed advantage is highlighted even more on slower mobile connections, and the developers contend that once you experience “the thrill of using Puffin,” using regular mobile Internet just feels like torture. That’s exaggeration, but Puffin’s speed is seductive.

The only downside of your input feed being filtered through a proxy server is a slight lag when switching into Puffin from another app, while the connection re-establishes. However, after that turbo bost kicks in.

CloudMosa, Inc. says its proxy server has 32 cores and 768GB memory, and an Internet backbone with 10Gbps bandwidth and 1ms latency to major web sites. As a result, they claim that Puffin can execute JavaScript 5x faster than its closest competitors, and that based on SunSpider JavaScript Benchmarking, Puffin is 550% faster than the iPad’s built-in Safari browser, and 1600% faster than Chrome and other alternative browsers on the iOS platform. I can’t vouch scientifically for those metrics, but Puffin is definitely the fastest iOS browser I’ve used, and not by just a small margin.

Note, however, that Puffin Web Browser’s data centers of are in the US and the cloud servers can only access public web sites from US geolocations. Consequently, for users outside the US, local content, especially videos of local interest, may not be accessible from the US due to geo-restrictions in your home country. For more information, check the Puffin FAQ at:
http://www.puffinbrowser.com/faq.html

The latest update , version 3.0.1 released May 13, adds close buttons in the tab list in the iPad version (see more on this below), allows downloads in Flash, improves Flash plugin stability, and includes a variety of bugfixes.

New features in Puffin in Version 3.0.0 include:
* The Whole New Tabs Browsing
* Download to Cloud (Up to 100M per file)

* Theater Mode for videos or games
* Add-ons functions (Pocket, Evernote, Facebook, Translator and more)

* New pop out settings and control bars on the left and right

Now, I would’ve been quite content had they left Puffin’s perfectly adequate version 2.x user interface alone, but with version 3.0 it’s received a major overhaul as well, and one that IMHO is not an unalloyed success. Most visible is that the page tabs row has been moved to the bottom of the screen from the more normal top. I’m quite used to tabs at the bottom from using the Sleipnir browser for iOS and Roccat in OS X, but it’s not my favorite location for tabs. I even keep the Dock in OS X on the right rather than at the default bottom position. However, at least Sleipnir’s bottom tabs are thumbnails, incorporating the page load progress bars no less, and you can close tabs with a simple downwards swipe.

Initially Puffin 3’s bottom tabs were just page names, with tab closing made much more cumbersome, and the former close buttons banished from the tabs. Instead, in order to close a tab, you had to click the “X” button located in the main menu bar’s upper left-hand corner, which confusingly disappears when you navigate to a second page in the same tab, replaced by the “back” icon. To close the tab, you either had to click on the Pages icon at the other end of the menu bar or swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen, either of which will open a Windows 8-ish tile view of all open tabs, from which you can click the applicable close tab icon on the corner.

However, happily the CloudMosa folks proved responsive to criticism and have restored the tab close buttons in the version 3.0.1 update released May 13. Thank you!

It would still be nice if the tabs could be made resizable, or a little deeper. With my iPad in my favorite open face folio cases, it’s difficult to nail Puffin 3’s skinny tabs.

Going to a new page by copy/pasting or typing in a URL is also more cumbersome in version 3. You have to open a new tab by clicking the + button, then summon a pop-up with an entry field for the new address.

Puffin 3 s two new slide-out vertical menus on the left and right-hand sides of the browser interface are summoned to appear by swiping from the respective edge of the screen towards the center.

The new add-on functions (plug-ins) include pre-installed:
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Share to Google+
Use Readability
Save to Pocket
Open Pocket

The three share modules should be self explanatory, function-wise.

Use Readability is to reformat a page’s Text into a simplified view format, somewhat similar to Reader in Safari. Save to Pocket and Open Pocket require that the user have an account at getpocket.com, into which you can drop a web page, using Save to Pocket, and read it later offline using Open Pocket.

There is a library of other add-ons you can select from, accessed by clicking Edit from the add-ons menu which is accessed from the right-hand menu strip which also contains Home, Bookmarks, Add-Ons, Downloads, More, Theater, Mouse, Keyboard, and Gamepad.

Another new Puffin 3.0 feature is the ability to download files from a web site and save them to a local holding facility within Puffin, or to DropBox.

Other cool returning Puffin features include text selection arrows that really work, substituting decently-sized yellow arrows for those wretched blue dots in other browsers and most other iOS apps.

Puffin’s unique virtual mouse technology is intended to help bridge the divide between mobile and desktop computing experiences. Users can activate the trackpad through the virtual mouse at any time, and use it in a manner similar to using a trackpad on a laptop. I think it’s great, Just tap the little mouse icon down in the left lowermost corner of the browser window, and a translucent virtual touchpad appears on screen, allowing you to navigate and click with an arrow-shaped cursor icon. I still much prefer mouse-and-cursor input to touchscreen modes, and this is the next best thing. I wish that not just all iOS browsers, but all iOS apps had this feature.

Puffin’s virtual trackpad feature and a virtual GamePad that can simulate arrow keys and buttons are back. To launch the virtual GamePad on an iPad, tap on the GamePad button at the right-bottom corner of the user interface window. To launch virtual GamePad or trackpad, open the right hand menu strip and press the appropriate toggle icon. When virtual GamePad shows up, tap the setup button to configure the mapped button

Getting back to Puffin’s Flash support, it works quite well. Lip synch is not perfect (or even close to it), and there’s some audio drop-off at times — at least over my relatively slow wireless broadband Internet service. But it beats the whizz out of no Flash support at all, and as noted, Puffin is an attractive general purpose browser for a whole raft of other reasons.

System requirements:

Puffin is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and all iPad versions.

A free (ad-supported) version — Puffin Web Browser Free — is also available, and includes most of Puffin’s features and but the $2.99 paid version also gives you the Flash compatibility that you get only on a trial basis with the free version.

CloudMosa suggests that all prospective Puffin users users try the free version before ponying up for the full version. This will let you confirm that the Puffin Web Browser works for you before committing any cash.

App Store Puffin Browser Free:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/puffin-web-browser-free/id472937654?mt=8#

App Store Puffin Browser paid version:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/puffin/id406239138?mt=8

For more information, visit:
http://www.puffinbrowser.com/

Facebook support site:
http://www.facebook.com/puffinbrowser

Follow on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/puffinbrowser

Find on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/puffinbrowser

Demo videos on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/puffinbrowser

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