Apple’s mobile Safari redefined the mobile web browsing experience; iLunascape rethinks the way that we should interact with a web browser on an iPad.

Some may be surprised to know that there are third party browsers available for iOS, but there are actually quite a lot of options and iLunascape is just the latest.

This tabbed browser moves many controls such as search, bookmarks, tabs and more to the bottom of the screen. We tested out iLunscape and found it to be an interesting twist on browsing the web.

The controls for iLunascape are persistent, so they do not disappear when you browse. You always see the controls on the bottom of the screen, the location bar on top, as well as a title bar above that. In the landscape mode, the web browsing experience seems a little cramped.

In portrait mode, the app’s design pretty much encourages you to hold the iPad like a giant iPhone or BlackBerry, using your thumbs to navigate most of the controls. The design is intuitive, with often-used buttons like the back, forward and the search nearest your thumbs.

iLunascape's Preferences menu

The interface is a nice departure from Safari with tabs appearing on the bottom, so there’s no need to access another menu to pick one of your open tabs like in Safari. Settings for iLunascape are accessible right from the Settings button on the bottom of the app.

Safari requires you to enter into the iPad’s Settings application to clear things like history and since there is no multitasking on iPad yet, this is slightly annoying. iLunsascape also includes a software option to lock the screen orientation without using the iPad’s hard button. Additionally, the app has a screen capture tool that sends a picture of the visible web page (without the app’s controls) to your Photos app.

iLunascape in portrait mode

The interface does have a couple of inconsistencies. To type a URL, you still have to click the address bar on the very top of the app. Clicking the search button on the bottom controls actually accesses the search box on the top menu. It would make sense that you could access the address bar the same way, but that is not the case.

Then again, a lot of people simply search for a site instead of typing in a URL, so maybe this is just an old habit. Changing your homepage also requires you to tap a control to the left of the address bar. It seems as though that should be accessible from the Settings menu, but it’s not.

The actual browsing experience is speedy and responsive, but nothing amazingly different from Safari. You will find the usual features with a bookmark manager, a way to view history, and iLunascape restores tabs when you come back to the application (that option can be turned off).

Unfortunately, you are limited to six open tabs in iLunascape instead of the nine you get with Safari. The default search option is Google and we didn’t find a way to change search engines from within the app.

If you’re the type of person who clicks lots of links on a website, you may not care where the controls are on a browser. If you like browsing through your bookmarks or are looking for a Safari alternative, iLunascape is definitely worth a look – plus it’s free.

You can download iLunascape for free from the iTunes App Store.

via CNET