Clearly I need a new mobile web browser27 Jan 2012
I use my iPhone for keeping up to date on a number of social media platforms. It’s how I consume news and what’s going on in my areas of interest. I’ve pretty much abandoned RSS feeds these days for the curated content of Twitter, and I now would find it had to operate as effectively without my nice ordered Twitter lists. The problem is the information I often require is in linked to articles and posts. This involves my Twitter client either using it’s internal browser or spawning out into mobile Safari. Not too bad in the main, but some sites are poorly formatted for mobile browsing. Either I get a desktop experience crammed onto a tiny screen or a poorly styled (usually some odd WordPress theme) mobile page that doesn’t actually let me scroll the whole article onto the screen. Clearly what’s needed is a better mobile web browser.
When I say “Clearly” with a capital “C”, I’m suggesting Evernote’s Clearly as a potential solution kind of. Clearly is a browser plugin that I’ve been trying for the last couple of weeks. With more than a passing resemblance to Readability (which I have a bookmarklet for in my browser on desktop and mobile), Clearly allows you to reformat a web page to a cleaner, simpler view. It strips out odd font sizes, advertisements hover over advert links, etc. to give a better reading experience. The difference is that Clearly also allows you to clip this to Evernote.
So whilst I have created bookmark lets to allow me to do useful things with web pages from my mobile devices (one-tap clip to Evernote and also with Readability too), having an integrated solution would just be somehow nicer. It would just tidy up some niggly bits and pieces and provide me with just what I need on the go.
So what would it look like? Well I thought I’d mock-up a rough idea (using iMockups and Skitch) on my iPad for an iPhone app and share it in the hopes Evernote might pick it up or may even be working on it. Of course a universal iOS app would mean a better iPad experience, and of course you could tweak the UI to work landscape as well as portrait and extend it to other platforms (e.g. Android, WP7, Blackberry OS)
These are just the key points. I think adding in some “standard” features like bookmarks and perhaps export the page in other ways (e.g. to an e-mail (perhaps even saving it via Evernote in the process?)) would be good to have too. I also thought that it would be kind of trendy and useful to maybe store the application settings in Evernote so that if you have multiple devices or lost your original, you just login on a new device to get them set automatically.
Options for help, about, etc. could also be included in the drop down. iOS allows other apps to be opened through registering a protocol (I used a Hootsuite example one some time ago), so it would be a simple case (I think) of directing people to a web page with instructions on how to install a bookmarklet in Safari that used a something like:
to open the page in this new browser app.
Clip to Evernote
The full range of clipping options would be ideal and the ability to highlight text in the browser (and getting a pop-up to clip) would lead the used to the same clipping screen.
Whilst Evernote would be ideally placed to produce this app, I guess any iOS developer could produce something like this. Whilst Clarify might not be the engine that drives the simplification of the page, this sort of technology exists in a number of places so it is not beyond the realms of possibility.
If anyone has any additional or better ideas, or even knows of a product that does this, please do share in the comments. I’ll be keeping an eye on the app store horizon for this one.