App Review: NetFront Life Browser for Android

This is no photoshop -- it really is an Android browser that lets you tilt web pages, but there's more than meets the eye. The folks at Access have just launched this free NetFront Life Browser, which packs a few interesting features that caught our attention. Let's hold hands and walk through them together. Upon launching the app for the first time, we were taken to a "unified navigation" landing page that consists of two sections: the top half displays live thumbnails of opened windows, and swiping left or right gives you a smooth 3D transition between them; whereas the bottom half shows you stacks of pages à la Apple Time Machine for history, bookmarks, and scrapbooks. Speaking of which, the scrapbook feature is also one of the main -- and probably the funnest -- highlights here: this is where you can store virtual cut-outs using the scissors tool at the bottom right of the browser, thus creating pictorial bookmarks. If you want to mark something specific on a page, then you can use the checkmarking tool -- located right next to the scissors -- to do so, but bear in mind that the marks will disappear if you close the page's window (so it's fine as long as you keep it in the background).

Like the stock Android browser, NetFront's offering also comes with a search tool except it's tied to Yahoo. Still, Access has justified this odd move by throwing in quick filter buttons for Twitter, news, weather and Yahoo Answers. The only niggle we have here is that there's no way of entering a URL other than by toggling the search tool first, and then tap the truncated URL bar on the right. We were more puzzled by other issues: the aforementioned tilt mode -- which tilts web pages to a fixed angle rather than tilting freely -- is meant to provide an "optimal readability-lines ratio," but problem is it really doesn't. As you'll see in our video below, this browser doesn't do pinch-to-zooming, and while the zoom buttons -- detachable for centering your zoom -- are easily accessible in portrait and landscape mode, they disappear in tilt mode. Of course, you can always double tap to zoom into a block of text, but guess what? The browser doesn't zoom to the width of the block or wrap the text into the screen. Shame, although we can't imagine this being a difficult fix.

Despite the flaws above, we were very pleased with NetFront Life Browser's stability, speed and intuitiveness. The only real bug we spotted was that Flash content overlays the bottom toolbar, but we'd be surprised if Access struggles to push out a fix within a short period.


Having spent some time using NetFront Life Browser, we're actually growing fond of its handy unique features, and it certainly doesn't feel bloated in any way, shape, or form. What's more, the app is free of charge! There's definitely a lot of potential here, but until pinch-to-zoom is implemented, we'll stick with the other choices for the time being -- there's only so much hair that we could tear out. By all means, have a go yourself if you've been longing for an alternative choice for your Android's browser.