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Dolphin Browser splashes onto the iPad

After hitting the iPhone in late August, a new version of the Dolphin Browser is now available for the iPad.

The Dolphin Browser makes good use of the iPad's large screen.
The Dolphin Browser makes good use of the iPad's large screen. Lance Whitney/CNET

First popularized as an Android app, the Dolphin Browser has just swam its way onto the iPad.

Initially hitting the iOS market for the iPhone in late August, the new app, dubbed Dolphin Browser HD, takes full advantage of the real estate of Apple's 9.7-inch tablet and offers a few tricks not found in the mobile Safari app.

Related stories:
• Dolphin Browser for Android
• Why I switched to DolphinHD
• How to browse the Web using gestures on Android
• Dolphin dives into iPhones

In Dolphin, you can hide the tab and address toolbars to see a Web page full-screen. Swiping your finger to the right displays your bookmarks, so you can easily jump to any site. Swiping to the left displays all your open tabs (yes, Dolphin supports tabbed browsing), so you can quickly return to any open page.

You can create subfolders for your bookmarks to nest them in different categories. And borrowing a page from Opera Mini, Dolphin lets you create Speed Dials for often-used Web sites, so you can reach them with a simple tap of your finger.

Dolphin also offers you a different visual experience by letting you view sites as Webzines, versions that look and act like digital magazines where you can swipe through each content item and tap the ones you want to read. You can even view your Twitter feeds and Facebook page as Webzines.

But one of Dolphin's coolest features is its gesture-based browsing. By jumping to the Gesture screen, you can use your finger to draw certain characters as shortcuts for specific Web pages or other actions. For example, drawing the letter G takes you to Google's home page, while drawing the letter T launches Twitter. You can add your own gestures to do virtually anything, including open a specific page, go backward or forward, add a bookmark, and toggle into full-screen mode.

On a practical level, I'm not sure how often I would use the gesture feature since it forces you to open its own separate screen and then try to remember the different gestures for each action. But for a limited and specific number of actions, I could see it coming in handy.

Created by the folks at MoboTap, Dolphin is an innovative and refreshing alternative to Safari and other browsers for the iPad.