Sometimes I just want to compare two websites side by side without flicking between open tabs. You? Well, ‘Side by Side‘ (formerly 4 Desktops) lets you do that and more.
How it works
Open up the app and you see two panels, side by side (wonder where they got the name for the app….). You can straight away choose between various websites, including a few online games like Sudoku, Chess and Card Flip. Nothing too exciting.
Hitting the button in the top right of either panel (the one with the two arrows on top of each other) gives you the option to open a website, a note or a file in the panel. From here you also get the option to move the panels on top of each other (rather than side by side), split the panel further into two (so a maximum of four in total) or open up just that particular panel alone. The permutations are plenty.
‘Notes’ does what it says on the tin. You can jot down notes on one side of the screen while you’re browsing a web site on the other side. Notes are saved in the app and can be emailed by hitting the ‘mail’ icon.
Using the ‘Web’ function you can type a website address directly into the address bar or even start a Google search from there by typing in your search term and hitting ‘Go’. You’ll get the mobile version of the website.
There are back and forward buttons and a reload button, as well as a ‘favourite’ button (the ★ button). This comes cunningly pre-populated with a number of popular websites such as Dropbox, Facebook and Dictionary.com, which you can easily remove if they’re not your cup o’ tea, and add your own. For example, both Google and Bing are already included as favourites and it was handy to be able to compare search results from each side by side (although, of course, you could always just use an existing comparison site like www.bingandgoogle.com; just another alternative).
A really sweet touch is the built in ‘Text mode’. When you’re on page that you just want to read, at a decent font size and without distractions of pictures, ads and so on, activate text mode by hitting the ★ and then the ‘Text mode’ button. Very elegant.
And finally, there’s the ‘files’ option. This, to me, was a little misleading. I initially thought you would be able to download an actual file to the iPad using the app. Well, kind of. What you can do is download any webpage by going into the ‘Web’ function, hitting the ★ button (so much functionality in such a small button!) and choosing ‘Download’. This saves a version of that webpage for reading later, a little like Instapaper or Read It Later but within the app. You can also email the page should you so wish.
There’s also a ‘Batch’ download facility, which, once activated, downloads the content from any link you click while in the web browser. You have to remember to turn this off though, otherwise you may be wondering why on earth the links aren’t working but instead are downloading. Not saying that happened to me or anything….
And (once you have rebooted your iPad) you can ‘Open in’ Side by Side any document attachment from the native Mail app, which is another nice touch.
This is a great, function-filled little app and is well worth a download. It’s usually $0.99 from the App Store, but it’s free until Monday 26 September. Can’t argue with free.
Do you have a different way of doing any of the above-mentioned stuff on your iPad? Any of them as convenient as Side By Side? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Danielle Saul is a technical writer and all round geeky chick. You can follow her on Twitter at @GeekyCh1ck
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