One Apple app that’s been missing from the Apple Watch is Safari. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Apple has chosen to omit it from such a small device, but now that the displays are significantly larger, it’s time for them to reconsider. A few years ago, Apple added the ability for apps to show web views if a link was tapped. But there’s been little to no movement on expanding that functionality. µBrowser is a new app that attempts to change that.
Developed by Arno Appenzeller, µBrowser is a $0.99 app that expands what’s possible with the Apple Watch. It’s not perfect, but that’s not Arno’s fault – Apple could do far more to make websites appear better on the watch face. Let’s get the weird quirks out of the way first.
Images on some sites don’t load quickly, and sometimes, they don’t load at all. It’s unclear if it’s simply that they’re taking a long time to load, if they’re incompatible formats, or if they just can’t load at all for some other strange reason.
Another quirk of browsing the web on Apple Watch is that custom fonts aren’t going to render on a lot of websites. For example, Daring Fireball looks very different in µBrowser because it’s forced to use standardized web fonts.
Now that the quirks are out of the way, let’s talk about the good things. µBrowser is extremely easy to set up and use. µBrowser lets you search the web or enter a URL directly on the watch, but using the companion iPhone app you can add your favorite bookmarks.
When you tap on a site to try to load it, the app will ask you to confirm. Arno says that it’s a technical requirement from Apple and that despite the prompt, no data is collected.
The app is very fast and sites on Series 7 load immediately. I haven’t tested the app on older watches, but it should work just fine on Series 4-6 watches as well. The smaller displays on the Series 3 watches will probably foil the experience of µBrowser.
The Series 7 display really shows websites nicely, most notably with large headlines on news sites. This app is particularly useful if you frequently check different blogs or publications for news and updates.
µBrowser is available starting today for $0.99 on the App Store for Apple Watch. It requires iOS 15 on the paired iPhone and watchOS 8 on your Apple Watch.
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