Apple has decided that, for browsing the Web on the iPhone, one size does not fit all.
Beginning this week, a number of alternate Web browsing apps have appeared in the App Store, some with submission dates from last October. They include:
- Edge Browser (a free app whose claim to fame is no loss of screen real estate to scroll or address bars.
- Shaking Web (US$1.99), with its "image stabilization" algorithm to combat readability due to hand shake.
- Incognito (also US$1.99), designed to browse without leaving a history trail.
- WebMate:Tabbed Browser (US$0.99), which queues up all the links you click on, then allows you to view them one by one when you're ready.
Since all these browser apps hit the retail channel almost simultaneously, it's theorized that they were being held in their own queue pending App Store approval — kinda like what happened with the flood of "fart machine" programs at the end of '08.
Apple had previously disallowed third-party browser apps, charging they "duplicated functionality" of existing iPhone apps. While the current flood of home-crufted web readers is encouraging, don't expect the sudden appearance of iPhone-ready versions of Opera, Firefox, or (heaven forbid) Google's Chrome — the iPhone App SDK still has too many restrictions to permit anything more than a stripped-down version of these Safari alternatives.