Building a better browser for iOS devices is a bit of a Sisyphean task. When you're pitching your product against one of the most successful mobile browsers of all time -- in fact, when you and everyone else trying to hike the trail are simply staging your product atop the underlying WebKit engine shared with Mobile Safari -- it's not easy. The best approach may be to identify the pain points Apple isn't addressing in designing Safari for 80% of the users, and hit hard on the convenience and features demanded by the other 20% who might be shopping for a new deal.
Looking at Life Browser, the latest project from the team at It's About Time, brings home the concept of power features for the rest of us. This snappy browser, available in a $2.99 universal build and an $0.99 iPhone-only version, is evolving pretty quickly as user feedback translates directly into new features and bug fixes. Life Browser first appeared on the iPad back in June of this year, at which time TUAW provided a first look at the app.
The three big features that recently joined the list for Life Browser are sideswiping to navigate from open page to page, an 'Open Sites' popup at the bottom of the screen to assist navigation, and the seemingly-omnipresent 'pull to refresh' pioneered by Tweetie/Twitter on the iPhone. Life Browser also tweaks and improves the Queue feature, which is handy for preloading links off of a page you're browsing (think Reddit or Twitter, where you might want to see several outgoing links without jumping forward and back repeatedly).
All in all, Life Browser provides quite a bit of value for your app dollar, and the rapid iteration of features and fixes is good to see. It's a shame that there isn't a way to do a trial version of the app, because it's hard to know if you're really in the 20% of high-needs users who will really take advantage of the power it brings.