Daily App Review: Dolphin Browser 7.4 HD (Android)Dolphin HD, one of the most popular third-party browsers on Android, has just got an update. And with it comes voice recognition.
As in many things, one can't help but blame this on Apple. Voice recognition had existed on handsets before Siri came with the iPhone 4S, with some very notable performers such as Vlingo. However, the arrival of Siri suddenly made voice commands the rage on handsets. And now Dolphin Browser has brought voice recognition into the latest edition of its browser for Android-version 7.4.
Those who belong to browser country will be more than familiar with Dolphin. The browser made a mark on Android users with its innovative gesture-based interface which allowed users to access a website by simply drawing a letter or a shape on a touchscreen--so you could go to www.efytimes.com by simply drawing a "E" on the screen (or whichever letter or shape you specify) instead of typing the entire URL in the address bar or accessing the bookmark panel. And while that feature remains unchanged in the latest edition of the browser, as does the ability to keep adding add-ons (Dolphin's version of browser extensions) that add new features and functionalities to the browser, what is making news in this release is Sonar, the voice recognition feature bundled in Dolphin HD 7.4, which can be downloaded for free from the Android Market.
Using Sonar is relatively simple. When you install the browser on your device, you will see a small microphone appear on the lower right corner of the browser window. If that is too troublesome, well simply shake your phone and you will see a microphone appear on the screen. You just need to speak into it--yes, it is as easy as that. From what we could see, the app was able to recognise most of the URLs that we dictated to it, although whenever we just mentioned a term, it often ended up doing a Google search on them. So if you want to go to the BBC News website, we could recommend saying "news dot bbc dot co dot UK" rather than just saying "BBC News". Also, while saying "Facebook" will open up the Facebook page, you still have to type in the username and password, so we would recommend asking the browser to remember your log-ins for a simpler life.
Speaking of a simpler life, we did face some accent issues with the names of Indian sites (it got totally messed up when we asked for "Dainik Jagran"), so we would suggest you use this feature mainly for western/international ones. You can do Google searches and also search Facebook but once again, accent can become an issue when dealing with names of places and people. You can also bookmark a page by simply saying "bookmark" when the page is open, but you will still need to type in the name of the bookmark if you wish to change it from the default one suggested by the browser.
There are a few bugs with Sonar, though--the microphone icon did not show up on our Desire HD and Motorola Xoom, so we always had to end up shaking the devices to access it (not a problem with the handset, a bit embarrassing with the tablet). Also, there were moments when the feature just seemed to freeze and we found ourselves shouting at the browser, waiting for something to happen. Restarting the phone fixed matters but we really do hope things like this get fixed soon.
So where does that leave the new version of Dolphin HD? Speaking purely in browser terms, we still think it is a must download for everyone simply because of the high level of innovation it offers--gestures work just brilliantly even now, browsing is brisk, there is Flash support, and we love the fact that it can present content in the form of a webzine, if you wish. As for Sonar, the feature right now is more of an interesting party trick than a compelling one. Yes, it is handy in some situations, and we love the way the app tells us (in text form, not vocally) that it could not hear what we had said or that it thought our query "sounds delicious", but we still think typing away on the keyboard is more handy. Still, it does not change our perception that Dolphin HD is one of the first apps any Android device user should download. And Sonar, while not a killer feature, is definitely a very interesting one. Worth trying out. Go ahead, download!Available from: Android Market Price: Free--Nimish Dubey