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Puffin Web Browser for iOS gets new Flash engine and virtual gamepad

Sections: iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch

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Puffin Browser Lite, one of my favorite iOS Web browsers, has been updated to version 2.3.3. I use Puffin mainly for its speed and stability, but it also has a deep feature set, now significantly deeper with this latest version release.

My seat-of-the-pants impression finds Puffin the fastest iOS browser. Puffin’s developers say it’s “wicked fast” thanks to its leveraging of a massive Cloud computing data center proxy server to pre-process Web pages, not only accelerating page rendering speed, but also reducing network data bandwidth usage. Puffin’s superior speed is highlighted even more on slower mobile connections, and the developers contend that once you experience “the thrill of using Puffin,” using regular mobile Internet just feels like torture. A bit of exaggeration there perhaps, but the speed is seductive.

Developer CloudMosa, Inc. says its super-fast server has 32 cores and 768GB memory and an Internet backbone with 10Gbps bandwidth and 1ms latency to major web sites. As a result, they claim Puffin can execute JavaScript 5x faster than the closest competitors, and that based on SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, Puffin is 550% faster than the iPad’s built-in Safari browser and 1,600% faster than Chrome and other alternative browsers on the iOS platform. I can’t vouch scientifically for those metrics, but Puffin is definitely fast.

A free (ad-supported) version—Puffin Web Browser Free—is available, but the $2.99 paid version also gives you Flash compatibility, and the Flash engine in this latest version 2.3.3 is claimed to improve Flash display smoothness and battery life.

A trial of paid Puffin’s Flash support is enabled by default in all downloads of Puffin, and you can extent your free Flash trial time by recommending Puffin to your friends, up to a maximum of 12. Each referral nets you 4 more weeks of Flash support.

Other cool Puffin features are text selection arrows that really work, substituting decently-sized yellow arrows for those wretched blue dots in other browsers and most other iOS apps.

Puffin’s unique virtual mouse technology is intended to help bridge the divergence between mobile and desktop computing experiences. Users can activate the trackpad through the virtual mouse at any time and use it in a manner similar to using a trackpad on laptops. I think it’s great; just tap the little mouse icon down in the left lowermost corner of the browser window and a translucent virtual touchpad appears on screen, allowing you to navigate and click with an arrow-shaped cursor icon. I still much prefer mouse-and-cursor input to touchscreen modes, and this is the next best thing. I wish that not just all iOS browsers, but all iOS apps had this feature.

Puffin’s virtual trackpad feature has now been joined in version 2.3.3 by a new virtual GamePad that can simulate arrow keys and buttons. To launch the virtual GamePad on an iPad, tap on the GamePad button at the right-bottom corner of the user interface window. To launch virtual GamePad on iPhone, press the menu button and choose launch GamePad. When virtual GamePad shows up, tap the setup button to configure the mapped buttons. There are also new scroll-to-edge buttons that appear when you scroll a page fast enough. Once the scroll to edge button shows up, tapping it will scroll to the end of the current scrolling direction.

Returning Puffin Browser features include simple bookmarking from a pull-down menu, Search Suggest, a popup blocker, an option to clear browser history, cookies, or cache, and support for most international web pages and input methods (see notes on the latter below).

New in Puffin Browser 2.3.3:

  • New Flash engine that improves Flash display smoothly and battery life.
  • ew virtual GamePad can simulate arrow keys and buttons.
  • New scroll to top/bottom button for fast scroll to end.
  • Fixed bug that connection setup might keep failed in some case.
  • Fixed bug that Flash contents always cover HTML contents.
  • More minor bugfixes and stability improvement.

CloudMosa, Inc., says the $2.99 paid version of Puffin, which was launched in 2011, has sold more than 700,000 licenses, and is ranked as the #1 paid iPad utility in more than 10 countries. However, there are some restrictions. Since CloudMosa, Inc.’s support data centers are in the U.S., and the cloud servers can only access public web sites from U.S. geolocations, users outside the U.S. may not be able to view locally geo-restricted content. For users outside the U.S., local content, especially videos of local interest, may not be accessible from the U.S. due to geo-restrictions in your home country. For China users, Puffin has been blocked by the Great Firewall of China since June 1, 2012, due to censorship issues. Consequently, Puffin Web Browser is no longer sold in China.

Puffin Web Browser is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and all iPad versions.

For more information, visit www.puffinbrowser.com.

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  • Christiane

    Hello,

    Do you know if this flash trial time exists in paid version also? If yes, how much for use when expires? it is possible extend?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Charles Moore

    Flash support is included with the paid version as a feature and is not expiring.

    CM

    • Christiane

      Hello Charles, thank you so much for you reply. ;D