To me, AOL Browser .68 Beta is what a browser should be. Relatively lightweight, easy to install, and most of all, it works how I want it to. I've been using for one day, and I'm already converted.
Based on Internet Explorer 6 technology, the new AOL Browser has taken what is good with browsers such as Firefox and Opera, and incorporated it all into one browser. With features such as tabbed browsers, quick search and an all inclusive desktop search facility, could this be the browser that puts a dent into Firefox's golden run?
Perhaps, but lets not look too far ahead. As with any beta software, AOL has a long way to go with their new browser, and it has lots of features lined up and raring to go. Some of the key features to the browser include:
- Tabbed Browsing: Everyone loves it, it saves space, and it saves memory. Tabbed browsing is the future of internet browsing, and AOL have found a solution that works just fine. It's nothing innovative, no, but the tabbed browsing is fast, efficient, and easy to use. Hovering over a tab will display a screenshot of the page which lies beneath, so no more having to flick through browser tabs to find the page your looking for!
- Website Snapshots: The idea of a snapshot has been around for a while, but AOL have made good use of it this time around. Hover over the back and forward buttons to see the webpage you just left behind, hover over a tabbed window to see what is on it, and hover over quick favourites to see where exactly where they are going. It couldn't be simpler!
- Quick Favourites: In addition to normal favourites, AOL offers quick favourites. Simply add a webpage to a specified folder in your favourites, and it will display a small textlink in the browser window, just under the address bar. Click it, and your browser zooms off to the webpage you specified. Quick, easy and effective.
- Power Browsing: All in good fun, AOL serves up a series of "Power Browsing" methods, these include zooming in and out, highlighting links, listing all the links on a specific page, mirrors and flips, and even changing to a high contrast version of the page, which inverts the style sheet!
- Built-in Desktop Search Facility: No more having to download a Google or Yahoo! add-on, the new AOL browser comes complete with a built in desktop searching facility which indexes your hard-drive as you are browsing. It's not quite as competent as other desktop search utilities out there, but it gets the job done, it finds what you want, and it couldn't be simpler to use.
And what features are still to come?
- AOL Smartbox: Find what you are looking for with this search facility. It will find, navigate and organise your search results for you, to make sure you get only the most specific results for your search terms.
- Designer Skins: Completely customise your online experience by customising the browser to fit your mood. Choose from a range of AOL designed skins, or make your own. Your browser, your choice!
For more on what AOL Browser beta has to offer, take a look at this page: http://beta.aol.com/aolbrowser/help.html
Could the AOL Browser give Firefox an unwelcome challenge, or will it be fogged off like its predecessors? No specific date is set for a full launch, but AOL need to make their move now, whilst there's still a chance.