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iFari

ifari12.PNGiFari follows several other attempts to provide a ‘private’ browsing experience on the iPhone. Whether you’re trying to conceal buying something as a surprise for your loved one or whether you’re trying to keep your more adult-oriented web links away from your children, iFari lets you browse away, safe in the knowledge that where you’ve been and, most importantly, what you mark as favorites, never get stumbled upon by others.ifari2.PNGThe idea of launching a custom web browser, using Safari’s routines but separate from its page logging and cache, has been around for a while, but iFari takes things a stage further by solving one of the problems of the genre: how to keep favorites in a browser which is not supposed to store where you’ve been. After all, if you have to enter URLs each time, by hand, things are going to get tiresome pretty quickly.ifari3.PNGiFari’s brainwave was to add PIN-protection, meaning that you can happily add sites to its Bookmarks system, to save masses of URL typing next time round, without ever risking your kids coming across them. In other words, you’ve got yourself a second, protected web browser with all the features of Safari but with full history safeguards. The system works superbly, with no discernible performance disadvantage over Safari itself. Zooming, landscape view, everything works just as if you’re within Apple’s own ‘branded’ browser. Bookmarks can be edited using the same ‘Edit/Delete’ controls as in Safari itself.ifari4.PNGHowever, the application loses a couple of stars and the development team get a rocket from me on two counts. Firstly, this is a commercial application (i.e. it’s not free) and, as such, users are entitled to expect it to be free of adverts. Yet the very first thing you see is a big ‘Wait’ notice and a banner ad for a music video (always the same in my testing period). Applications can generally either be ad-supported or commercial – iFari tries to be both at once and the mix is a little ugly. In its defense, once past the opening screen there are no more ads, but the system just seemed…. unnecessary.ifari5.PNGiFari also earns itself a brickbat by including a pretty pointless email icon. The idea is that you stumble across a great site while (privately) browsing and want to fire its URL over to a friend by email. This would work as long as the whole process was handled by iFari itself. Instead, iPhone Mail is started up to handle the communication, losing a degree of privacy and, worse, forcing iFari to quit. And you’ve then got to go back in, use a bookmark or URL and wait for the page to load all over again. Yes, Apple’s policy of not allowing multitasking is to blame here, but the developers of iFari would have done better to omit the email option altogether and keep the app simpler.Worth installing for those ‘occasions’ where you really, really don’t want someone else to stumble across something you’ve been ordering or reading.

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