Portal - Full Screen Browser

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by LightPillar, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. LightPillar macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    Dear MacRumors Forum Users,

    First of all, we'd like to say hello as we are new here. We'd like to use our opening post to introduce you all to our latest iPhone and iPod touch app called 'Portal'. Portal is our attempt to redefine the ideal of full screen browsing on a small screen mobile device.

    Below is an explanation of what Portal is and our ideas behind them. Apologies it is so long but it is designed to reach a wide audience of varying technical competence, and for those hardened users among you, please excuse the handholding; it is not meant to be condescending! Finally, there are some links to our website and YouTube channel where we have 5 screencasts of Portal in action.

    We are really pleased with what we have achieved for this 1.0 release and are very keen to keep developing it further. And this is where you come in. We would very much appreciate your feedback, both good and bad, so you can help us create a browser that 'ticks all your boxes', so to speak.

    We are very much looking forward to keeping an active dialogue with you all. Thank you very much for reading!

    Very Kind Regards,
    Light Pillar

    Product Page (inc HD screenshot gallery)
    YouTube Channel
    AppStore Link

    [​IMG]

    User Interface
    The user interface is centred around a single button, called the ‘Portal Button’. Upon loading Portal, this button is the only UI that can be seen and even if this is obscuring something, it can be hidden and revealed with a gentle shake of the device.

    It was discovered early on that using a ‘gesture’ approach to interacting with the UI would afford us great advantages in both speed and user messaging. So, when the Portal button is touched (and held), the ‘Arc’ menu rotates into view with a smooth animation. This menu offers 3 choices; Navigation, Actions and Tabs.

    With your finger held down, sliding onto any of these 3 menu options will reveal a second arc of buttons that also smoothly rotate into view. From here, the user can continue to drag their finger (or thumb) over the options available, taking note of the additional Help Icon that confirms the function that is currently selected. To select an option, the user simply releases their finger over the appropriate button.

    This gesture-type motion acts like a typical ‘mouse-over’ event of a desktop browser; the user interface is very effectively messaging to the user what their finger is currently focussed on and removes any doubt of what a button might do. This is a huge strength and advantage that Portal has over other browser interfaces; the user doesn’t have to understand the language of an icon and make an uninformed chance that ‘that particular icon’ is the button they should touch.

    With practice, the UI almost becomes transparent as a user can simply recall a gesture and hit the button they want with speed, ease and precision. Want to enter a URL? Touch the portal, drag up to 12 o’clock and then to 1 o’clock and release... you are at the Goto Screen. The same applies to all the menu options.

    In addition, we have considered all of the basic operations of a web browser and made them really fast and easy too.

    URL Entry
    By default, the URL already has the top and tail of an address pre-filled with user selectable prefixes and suffixes such as ‘http://www’ and ‘.com’ so the user only has to type the middle part of an address; for example, ‘bbc’. Portal resolves the full address and automatically goes to http://www.bbc.com.

    Instant Search
    As the user begins to type an address into the URL field, Portal scans all addresses stored in the browsing history and bookmarks and presents a dynamic list of results. The user can then just tap the appropriate URL link and save unnecessary typing.

    Next and Previous History
    This is a list of all previously visited website in the current session. It is supported on desktop browsers but is not usually found on mobile browsers at all.It works brilliantly when following links from a search engine as it allows the user to get back to the initial search results really quickly.

    8 Tabs with Instant Full Screen Preview
    As the user drags their finger/thumb over the 8 Tab buttons on the Arc UI, the webpage currently loaded in each is displayed instantly so the user can very quickly find the page they are looking for. The user no longer has to ‘hunt’ for their page by selecting traditional ‘tab’ bars or swiping through page after page.

    In short, the user interface really has to be seen, or even better experienced, to be truly appreciated; it really is this fast and easy.

    Research Mode
    Research Mode is a feature unique to Portal and allows a user to highlight pertinent information extremely easily and store them for quick retrieval. Research Mode works by first settings a Topic and any associated key phrases that are of particular interest. Each key phrase can be assigned a colour and whilst browsing, any words that match the specified key phrases are automatically highlighted in the chosen colour. This makes is extremely easy to pick out relevant sections of a large block of text, or find the right product specifications when shopping.

    When a user finds a webpage that is worthy of bookmarking, they can add it as a Research Bookmark and apply a Relevance Rating. Research Bookmarks are stored separately to normal bookmarks and are filed under the Topic name for quick and easy access.

    Any if you need to share your research with anyone, you can email this information in a specifically formatted table. Great for collaboration or sending someone links to things you want for Christmas!


    Search Providers
    Most people use the internet to search for things. With this in mind, Portal removes the unnecessary step of having to visit the search provider by allowing them to search directly from the app. The user simply enters the search phrase, select the search provider they want to search from the list and hit the search button.

    Portal has over a dozen of the most popular search providers already built-in. This list can be edited and even added to; if the user’s favourite search engine (or any website with a search box) is not listed, they can use a special codeword to add it to the list. Another great time saving feature.


    User Profiles
    Sometimes a user wants to keep their work and home life separate, or they want to browse privately. Or, a shared office or family device requires separate users. This is where User Profiles come in. Each User Profile is unique and can store settings, browsing history, bookmarks and privacy settings completely independently from each other.

    Portal ships with a ‘Default’ and ‘Private’ profile but any number of additional profiles can be created. These are displayed in a list and the user just has to select which one they want to activate. If a user doesn’t want to leave any trace of their browsing activity then they can select ‘Private’, which is now a standard feature on all browsers.

    However, Portal takes the concept of private browsing one step further and introduces Stealth Mode. Stealth Mode is just like a normal profile but it is hidden from the list of other profiles; only the user who created the profile knows it exists and what the sign-in name is. This is a really important feature because users can now browse privately and take full advantage of a browsing history and bookmarks, something not previous available on any other browser.


    Find in Page
    This is a search facility for the page currently in view. Most web browsers have this feature but Portal enhances the usability by using cross-hairs to target the current highlighted occurrence of the search phrase.

    Air Print
    Fully supported with iOS 4.2

    Email
    Any link or web page can be emailed from within Portal. For those users who consistently email themselves links, eg, sending links to themselves at work, Portal can be set up with a default email address to save having to select a recipient each time.

    File Downloading
    Using MIME types, Portal can download many common file types that are stored locally within Portal and can be synched to your computer with iTunes.

    Browser Identity
    Portal can identify itself to a website as one of 9 popular browsers.

    Built-In User Guide
    All the help and tutorials you need built right into the app
     
  2. Fedorov macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    #2
    How did I miss this thread?!

    What a fantastic browser for a 1.0 release! So innovative, only took a few minutes to get used to using the Portal button for navigation.

    I've already tweeted you a few suggestions, keep up the good work, hope to see it do well.
     
  3. Maskusee macrumors 6502a

    Maskusee

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Philly
    #3
    Anyone else using this app for internet browsing on the iphone?
    Just found it on Gizmodo website and itching to download.

    How safe is it?
     
  4. Maskusee macrumors 6502a

    Maskusee

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Philly
    #4
    Hey Devs, any thoughts on adding Read it Later or Instapaper integration to your browser?
     
  5. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Hi Maskusee,

    We've had quite a few people ask about these on Twitter so we have created Dev Tickets for both. We'll look into implementing them for a future version.

    Thanks for your question!
     
  6. Maskusee macrumors 6502a

    Maskusee

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Philly
    #6
    Devs,

    I have a few questions about your browser.

    - is there a tab to access all my book marks?

    - when I click on a link is there a way to open it in
    another window?

    Thanks.
     
  7. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Hi Maskusee,

    Not sure what you mean by your first question, but you select...

    Naviagation >> Goto URL >> Bookmarks

    ... you can see all your bookmarks.

    When you see a link, either text or an image, touch and hold on the link and the Context Menu will appear giving you a range of options subject to the kind of link you have selected. Eg, if it's a link you can COPY URL, EMAIL LINK or OPEN IN TAB. If it's an image, you also get the option to VIEW IMAGE.

    Hope these answers help.

    Regards,
     
  8. Maskusee macrumors 6502a

    Maskusee

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Philly
    #8
    Thank you for your replies.

    Im really digging this app, i think with a few tweaks, it will be perfect.

    Btw, just discovered the shake feature to drop the navigation "ball",
    that is just simple perfection.


    Wish you guys much success with this beautiful app !!
     
  9. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Portal v1.2

    Hi everyone,

    We're aiming to be a lot more active with you guys as we work towards giving you the apps you deserve. We'll be opening a few more threads for our other apps and we invite you to join in, tell what you like and where we can improve.

    To kick things off, we'd like to tell you about Portal v 1.2 that we released recently. If you've not seen Portal before, we urge you to check it out as we think it's a really cool full screen browser.

    Based on your feedback, this is what we added to v1.2:

    - Added downloaded file manager to allow deleting of files in the documents folder.
    - Added configurable gestures (13 configurable gestures with 27 assignable functions)
    - Added bookmark import functionality. Tested using XMarks, Safari Mac, Opera Mac, Chrome Mac, Firefox Mac
    - Added "portal://" URL scheme so other apps can launch URLs in Portal
    - New Info Banner displays loading information (Status, Connection type, URL) to replace connecting screen
    - Added option for automatic tab selection (defaults to on). Still prompts when no available tabs
    - Added 'Tilt to Scroll' functionality that can be assigned to a gesture
    - Added Scroll to Top functionality that can be assigned to a gesture
    - Added Scroll to Bottom functionality that can be assigned to a gesture
    - Added Zoom to Fit functionality that can be assigned to a gesture
    - All new themed backgrounds and settings interface

    if you have any feedback, we'd love to hear from you!

    Best Wishes,
    LP
     
  10. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    Free Promo Codes

    If you would like to try this for free, we will be giving away promo codes at 1pm this afternoon.

    Keep an eye on this forum

    LP
     
  11. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    Thank you... really glad you like it. :)
     
  12. smokedog macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Thanks to Mercury browser messing up their latest update. I had to go find another browser and I found this. And what a hidden treasure it is. Love the cleaness and gestures.

    My feedback would be to try improve the overall speed. Doesn't seem to be as snappy as Mercury. Also maybe add an advert blocker and would be nice to be able to remove or customise some of the features. I personally will never use the print, email and research function.

    Keep up the good work!
     
  13. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    Thanks!

    Thanks smokedog. Speed seems to be a constant variable from user to user. We assume it's down to the combination of available memory and how many other apps are running. This is something we are constantly looking into and many users commented on the noticeable speed increase on the last update, but we hope to continue to be able to keep making Portal faster with each release.

    Regarding customisation of the Arc menus, we are considering this as we appreciate the value of being able to tailor the app to a user's needs. So, stay tuned.

    LP
     
  14. smokedog macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    Awesome, looking forward to the next release.

    Seeing that I'm here, maybe I can make 2 more quick suggestions.

    - Have a direct path to Bookmarks, at the moment its a 2 step process to bookmarks. Would be nice to go straight to bookmarks bypassing "Goto URL". Or adding bookmarks as one of the sign-in options.

    - Orientation seems slow because of the fade to black transition. Would be nicer if it held on current orientation before rotating getting rid of the black.
     
  15. LightPillar thread starter macrumors newbie

    LightPillar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    Thanks for the suggestions. They are duly noted! :)
     

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