Review: Dooble enters the crowded field of alternative browsers
By Ian Harac
At a Glance
High focus on security
Some features undeveloped or buggy
Minimal number of extensions
It’s free and can be fun to play around with, but Dooble’s not going to replace your current browser just yet.
Dooble is another entry into the large field of “web browsers that aren’t Explorer, Firefox, or Opera.” As with most such entries, it is reasonably functional and has a few new ideas, but it doesn’t offer an overwhelmingly compelling reason to switch from your primary browser.
The main focus of Dooble is privacy and security. Dooble operates by default in what other browsers call “private mode,” and the user explicitly grants exceptions to retain data from various sites between launches. It will request a password on application launch. A built-in cookie browser is easily accessible from the main menu bar, making it simple to see what data sites are tracking (if you know how to interpret the information). The more secure HTTPS protocol is on by default, as well.
Another virtue of Dooble is that it’s fast, or at least it feels fast (this is a case of subjective perception, not precisely timed rendering tests). I spend a significant portion of my life staring at browser windows, and Dooble renders quickly, even on image-heavy sites. There’s a crisp sharpness to it, and this is worth mentioning.
In addition to the Windows edition, Dooble comes in Mac and Linux flavors.
One unusual feature of Dooble is a built-in desktop. While most browsers accept local URLsand present directory listings. Dooble includes a simple desktop/file manager, desktop, with multiple windows, and management functions. Unfortunately, the usefulness of this is limited. For example, it doesn’t read file type associations from Windows, so the user must enter them manually, and, having done so, the launching of the application based on the file is sporadic at best. Often, the application would open, but the selected file would not open within it. While I could open text files with Notepad++ or XLS files with Excel, I could not open html files with Firefox or FLV files with VLC media player.
Dooble has hooks for plugins, but, so far, only one is available, a chat/IRC type application. Because the “plugin/extension ecosystem” is becoming such a vital part of Web browsing, as the Web becomes more of an environment in itself, any browser that can’t tap into that either needs to include a kitchen sink’s worth of features (contrary to the current trend of slimmed-down programs), or risk being overlooked because a useful function can’t be added.
I experienced only one system crash with Dooble, which I could not replicate. Given the myriad possible causes of such a one-off event, I’d rate Dooble as quite stable.
Dooble is drifting towards a niche—high privacy, with the program heavily slanted towards safe defaults—but it needs a good bit of work and polish to be good enough as an overall browser for daily use. It performs as well as any browser for the basic functions of the Web, but it is missing those “quality of life” features that are what drives a user to choose one browser over another when all of them are, in essence, presenting the same data. I hope to see functionality added in future versions, and existing functions enhanced and extended.
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