iPhone users have more and more options when it comes to their mobile browsing experience. You can always use the iPhone’s Safari browser, but it has some downsides. WebOut is one alternative browser that offers a feature Safari lacks — it can stream audio and video to an Apple TV via AirPlay. So how does it work?
Browsing the web with WebOut
WebOut is a good alternative to the iPhone’s built-in Safari browser. I like the low-key, streamlined interface — there are few buttons that clutter up the screen other than backward and forward buttons, an options tab and the address bar. Like Safari, many pages are automatically directed to a mobile version, including CNN.com, TheDailyShow.com and FoxNews.com. For mobile pages, I didn’t notice any significant difference between Safari and WebOut in how long it took to load those pages. Full-size pages like The New York Times or Huffington Post loaded more slowly, but there was a negligible difference between Safari and WebOut.
Overall, navigation felt very zippy and videos loaded quickly as well. However, I usually received an error message saying, ‘Load Failed: Loading this page failed because plug-in handled load’ even though the videos loaded fine. That isn’t a huge deal because I was still able to watch the videos, but it is annoying. Videos — like South Park’s ‘A Present From Down Below’ — play smoothly over a WiFi connection, and the app supports landscape mode, which makes the videos easier to watch. Videos loaded more slowly over a 3G connection, but the quality was good and there were no buffering pauses.
WebOut’s extra features
By clicking on the small icon at the top of the screen, WebOut allows you to view a webpage in article format, which gets rid of ads and converts the content into a barebones HTML list. That’s convenient for pages that are slow to load, and it eliminates a lot of the pinching and zooming you’ll have to do on large sites. You can also tap a button to view any webpage in Safari, which launches the iPhone’s browser. Speaking of Safari, I did miss that browser’s auto-complete feature so you don’t have to type the full web address for sites you visit often.
WebOut’s biggest claim to fame is that it can stream HTML5 video to a second-generation Apple TV using AirPlay, although you have to have iPhone OS 4.2 or later. This is a big benefit, since Safari only outputs audio, not video.
While there are a few recent complaints from users at the App Store who say that feature doesn’t always work properly, we didn’t encounter any problems (To be fair, the developers do say that AirPlay streaming works best on the iPad). Streaming video to the Apple TV was as simple as loading the video and selecting the Apple TV as the destination. The video appears on the TV screen quickly and we didn’t encounter any buffering problems. One downside to this approach, which is out of the control of WebOut’s developers, is that most web video is low resolution and designed for small screens, so the quality of the video when shown on a large HDTV is low. This may change as more HD video is available online.
The Bottom Line
WebOut is a good alternative browser if you don’t like Safari. I found it very quick and responsive, and I was impressed with video loading times and quality over both WiFi and 3G. I still prefer the Opera Mini Browser overall, but WebOut is worth a look — especially if you own an Apple TV.