‘Sites’ Brings Flexible Web Browsing to iPad

The App Store has absolutely exploded with iPad apps in the past 24 hours since they first started appearing. From Netflix to Apple’s own iBooks making appearances along with an app for just about everything else in between, there will be no shortage of apps from which to choose for lucky buyers who pick up their pre-reserved iPads tomorrow.

One thing that promises to be a more pleasurable experience on the iPad compared to the iPhone is web browsing, thanks to the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. While Safari is a very capable browser, it can leave something to be desired when it comes to viewing and switching between multiple web pages. Sites, a new iPad app by Big Nerd Ranch, brings a great deal of flexibility to web browsing on the iPad with the ability to open and display multiple web pages at once along with some nifty navigational features.

In Safari, you can only view one page at a time and must go through multiple open pages sequentially. If you like to open multiple pages at once and browse one as you wait for others to load, Sites will let you do this with ease. To help you manage multiple pages open at once, Sites has an Expose-like feature called Exhibit that will be familiar to Mac OS X users – it will shrink and line up all open windows in a grid so you can easily choose which one to view. Exhibit can be triggered via a button in the toolbar at the top or by shaking the iPad.

Resizing windows is easy – you simply pinch to zoom with one finger on the bars at the top and bottom of a window, and windows can be moved by tapping and holding the top or bottom bar and then dragging.

The search function in Sites brings a little more to the table than Safari as well. Not only will Sites search Google, but it will also search through your bookmarks and browsing history. When you open a new window, you can start typing immediately in the search bar (you can change the default action when opening a new window to let you start typing a URL in the address bar instead via the Settings menu).

If you need to leave Sites and go to another app, the pages you last viewed will appear just as you left them in Sites when you go back to it. You can then choose to refresh or close each window individually.

You can save bookmarks in Sites to make getting to your favorite web sites easier (though you must enter them manually since they’re not pulled from Safari, though we’ve been told this may come in a future version of the app). You can easily email links to others right in the app as well.

The Settings menu allows you to customize some navigation elements as well as the background image. Double-tappping on the background can open a new window or trigger the Exhibit function. You can select a different background image from the iPad’s photo library.

Sites is available now and costs $3.99. We’re looking forward to seeing it in action on the iPad.

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