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Does the iPad Need a New Browser?

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Last week, Apple (AAPL) revealed, along with a host of other things, a new version of its proprietary browser Safari. One of the most noticeable things about the update was the remade Safari’s similarity to Google Chrome (GOOG).

Like Chrome, the new Safari has done away with separate URL and search bars. It has also added some new features, and been streamlined aesthetically.

But, for some developers, these changes aren’t quite good enough. Both Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox will have iOS 6 versions out in the near future, at least according to ReadWriteWeb.

In a recent video, one Firefox designer calls Safari on the iPad a “pretty miserable experience.” This criticism came as a part of his presentation of Mozilla’s new “Junior” browser.

The browser, which is still a prototype, has been designed exclusively for tablet users, and does away with a number of traditional features. For example, there are no tabs. Instead, the browser covers the whole screen, removing needless clutter and streamlining user experience.

Of course, new browsers for iOS face a number of difficulties. Foremost is Apple’s legendary control over its products. As of now, there are alternatives to Safari on iOS (Opera Mini, for example); however, customers cannot set these as their default browser. The same thing goes for alternative email programs.

It’s fairly easy to make the argument that Apple should open up iOS the tiny bit necessary to allow users to change their default browsers. That said, some part of me doubts that they will (remember what Cupertino did to Adobe Flash (ADBE)?).

While Apple’s strict control over user experience is generally a good thing, it can go too far in limiting customization. Realistically, a more elegant, easier to use browser would only improve user experience on the iPad and iPhone, and encourage people to stick with the platform.

We’ll see what happens when the new browsers come out. However, if the new Retina MacBook Pro is any indication, Apple is only moving further away from accessibility.

(See also: Apple's New Safari Brought to You by Google Chrome and Apple Doesn’t Trust Owners of the New MacBook Pro)
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