Apple Approves ‘Replacement’ Browser for iPhone's Safari

A web browser that actually aims to replace Safari has been approved by Apple

By on February 9th, 2010 11:05 GMT
Apple seems to be quite offended by Android references in the App Store, but not by developers whose apps' descriptions clearly state that they compete with Safari, the company's web browser. One such application features a description that aims to steer customers clear of Safari, while Apple’s reviewers seem to have overlooked this “insignificant” aspect, Softpedia has found.

Developer iLegendSoft has this iPhone app that acts as a web browser. It’s a good app, although it can take its toll on a first-gen iPhone’s hardware. We’re not surprised Apple is now allowing other web browsers to work alongside its Safari browser on the iPhone. What we’re surprised by is the app’s description, which says that Mercury Browser has features that make it “the best replacement for Safari.”

Apple is known to protect its products and trademarks at all costs, and Safari is one of them. For a long time, the company denied web-experts like Opera the ability to throw in the iPhone version of their web browser. For one reason or another, the Mac maker later decided that it would allow mobile web browsers to compete with the mobile version Safari, and so Mercury, and other similar apps, were approved. However, its description doesn’t seem to fall in line with Apple’s policies.

As shown in the screenshot above (click to enlarge), Mercury Browser is described as a “FULLSCREEN web browser with TABS for iPhone and iPod touch. The clean UI and rich features make it the best replacement for Safari,” according to iLegendSoft, its creator. It is surprising how Apple approved Mercury with that description in the first place, let alone the fact that it continues to leave it untouched, as iLegendSoft submits updates, improving it.

Going by a developer’s recent talks with Apple’s reviewing board, “Apple doesn’t like it when developers mention Android in their app descriptions.” Google’s mobile operating system is known to be in direct competition with the iPhone OS. In this case, the Mac maker kindly asked the developer to tweak up his app’s description a bit, which he did, and now everybody is happy. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear iLegendSoft received a similar letter from Apple in the nearby future, instructing the developer to shake that comparison with Safari.

Review image
Review image
Review image
Mercury web browser screenshots

With that out of the way, one thing I like about the Mercury web browser is that it allows you to make the address bar disappear for as long as you’re browsing back and forth. When you need to type in a new address, there’s a small, green arrow pointing downwards, which you can use to make the bar pop out again. Surprisingly, a button living in the inferior side of the screen (resembling the “full-screen” command typical to YouTube videos) serves the user for the same function. This command, however, keeps the bar present on top at all times. Unnecessary, to say the least.

The tabs are also a nice touch, although the iPhone is clearly not ready to handle the workload (at least not my first-generation unit). The app runs slowly, and it’s graphically glitchy, especially when switching from portrait to landscape and vice versa.

There’s a free version and a paid version of Mercury, although the description fails to make it clear exactly what the paid app does that the free one doesn’t. In any case, you may want to download the app now, considering Apple may decide to yank it altogether at some point.

Download Mercury Browser (Free)

Download Mercury Browser Pro ($0.99)

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