While Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple jostle for market share in the desktop browser market, several apps have come along to vie for the attention of tablet owners. Here are the best browsers out there for that sultan of slates: the iPad.
App Store Rating: N/A
The rundown: iPad’s standard browser, Safari is easy to use, syncs with your Mac desktop or laptop browser, and is integrated with everything else by default—meaning that any action on another app that requires a browser will send you to Safari. It may not be as flashy as the others, but it’s got all the essentials.
Real estate pros will hate: The limitations. If there’s a mobile version of a website, Safari will automatically send you there—and unlike the other browsers on this list, you won’t be able to opt for the desktop version. Safari also limits you to 9 tabs at a time, which could be an issue when you’re trying to examine a bunch of properties side by side with a client.
App Store Rating: 4/5 (838 5-star reviews)
The rundown: The competition. Chrome for iOS has the sleek user interface you’ve come to expect from Google. It’s one of the best apps out there for tabbed browsing, with no limit on the number of tabs you can have open at once. Unlike Safari, Chrome also gives you the option to visit desktop sites.
Real estate pros will love: Security and syncing. Chrome brings Incognito mode to the iPad, which is perfect if you share your slate with others in your office. Chrome for iOS will also sync not just bookmarks from your desktop, but also any tabs you have open—useful if you suddenly have to run to a showing or client meeting.
Real estate pros will hate: The bugs. Reviewers on the App Store and elsewhere indicate that Chrome is prone to glitching and crashing, particularly if you’ve upgraded to iOS 6.
App Store Rating: 4.5/5 (481 5-star reviews)
The rundown: One of the top browsers for Android devices, Dolphin is also the innovator of the bunch due to its user interface, designed specifically with touchscreens in mind. Features include a sidebar that puts history and bookmarks at a glance, as well as a Flipboard-style reader for your favorite sites.
Real estate pros will love: The gestures. Dolphin allows users to program up to 20 custom multi-touch gesture s not just for typical actions like refresh, back, and forward, but also as visual bookmarks for navigating to specific sites.
Real estate pros will hate: The gestures. Users who aren’t interested in creating their own sign language (or the rest of Dolphin’s unique features) may find the browser’s interface a little confusing and difficult to use compared to the other options on this list.
App Store Rating: 4.5/5 (914 5-star reviews)
The rundown: An independent browser with tons of options, Mercury brings just about every feature you could want in a desktop browser to your tablet, including an ad blocker. Users can choose between a free version and Mercury Pro, which adds the ability to sync with your Chrome and Firefox desktop browsers.
Real estate pros will love: The extras. Mercury comes with several attractive themes, programmable gestures, an in-app dimmer switch for your screen, and the ability to pose as other browsers, including Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Real estate pros will hate: Not much, honestly. Except for tab syncing, Mercury has all the best features of both Chrome and Dolphin. However, App Store reviews of the most recent version (7.0.1) complain of frequent crashing.
App Store Rating: 4/5 (388 5-star reviews)
The rundown: Like Mercury, Atomic comes in both free (“lite”) and $0.99 (“pro”) flavors and is chock full of ways to personalize your browsing experience.
Real estate pros will love: The customizability. Atomic’s in-app settings are packed with options: gestures, custom button assignments, a scroll bar with page-down functionality, etc. You can even assign a custom search engine for the search bar, making it easy to quickly browse Zillow, Realtor.com, or any other publisher.
Real estate pros will hate: The details. Compared to the rest, Atomic is lacking in the looks department. It’s also missing a couple small features that are a big pain for real estate agents to do without—phone numbers, for instance, aren’t automatically clickable in Atomic.