Oct 05 AT 2:30 PM Adam Oram 0 Comments

Review: Tangram — Task Browser

tangram feature

According to its creators, Tangram is a web browser for professionals that is “built and designed to guarantee efficiency and productivity”. Allowing you to complete complex information-based tasks, it is described by developers Lateral SV as “the most efficient mobile browser on Android”. These are some big claims in a crowded app market place but also noble aims in our increasingly mobile workplace.

For many people, the vast majority of their web browsing, and increasingly the entirety of their work, is completed on their phone and tablet. Tangram is built for this reason and wants to provide the necessary tools to minimize the time spent browsing and maximize the resultant output when working on a small screen.

When you first open up Tangram, you are greeted with a brief tutorial for how the app works. It’s very different to other browsers, so pay attention. One of the main differences is how Tangram deals with tabs or, rather, how it completely does away with them. Instead of the usual tabbed browsing experience you’ve grown accustomed to, Tangram implements three separate sections within the app for seeking, selecting and storing information on the web, with an omnipresent floating action button for launching a new web page or search.

In the the first section — Web — you can search and quickly browse links. From the list view you can swipe results right to save them, or left to remove them from the list. You can open any link in a full web view and swipe to go back to the results. It’s a quick way of searching, previewing and filtering through results.

The second section is called Stack and is where your saved links go. These are intelligently grouped by location, date and source automatically making the list easier to parse. From the stack, they can be swiped right to Bookmark — the third section, where the real organization happens. Saved bookmarks can be manually grouped into folders and subfolders and any screen grabs or images you save from your links will remain associated with that webpage so that they are easily found and any task you have started is stored as you left it, meaning you can easily revisit a page without any progress being lost. These tasks can also be shared with others.

This three section way of accessing the web is unusual and certainly takes some getting used to. For browsing the web for fun or procrastination’s sake, I feel it gets in the way a little. But it’s not really built for the leisure user, it’s for the power user. For using the web for productivity and information gathering, I can see exactly how this organisational structure helps to find, synthesise and structure web resources.

Tangram screens

There is perhaps an argument that there is some crossover between Stack and Bookmark and perhaps the two could be combined, but the process of finding, drilling down and then organising is actually really useful once you get into it. I’ve been using Tangram for some of my other reviews and found it helpful in discovering, saving and storing important information and materials.

One other feature of Tangram I particularly liked was the way it opened and saved links when set as the default browser. When tapping links in other apps, Twitter for example, a floating widget appears gathering up these webpages and opening them in the background without interrupting your Twitter browsing. When you’re ready, you can tap this widget and see all of the links you’ve opened and make use of Tangram’s organisational structure too, making for a great ‘read later’ style service.

The concept of Tangram is solid, and power users and those who need to use a web browser for efficient data gathering will appreciate its powerful information management tools. Being so different to your usual web browser, it takes some getting used to before you really feel comfortable using it as your main browser, but if efficiency is important to you, it will be worth persevering with.

There are some rough edges, crashes and sluggishness at times but the developers are constantly updating the app — it’s still officially in beta and has been update a few times during my testing — so I’d hope any bugs will be squished in good time. There are new features planned for the net few weeks too including the added ability to add notes to saved webpages.

Tangram feels like a browser built by professionals, for professionals. If you find a way to fit it into your workflow, really embrace its organisational structure, and spend some time with it as your default browser, power users will certainly begin to benefit from its efficient ways of browsing the web.

Check out Tangram on Google Play where it is available to download for free.

Adam is Reviews Editor for PhoneDog, Android and Me and Today's iPhone. A Media and Communications graduate from Newcastle University in the UK, Adam is a Bradford City FC fanatic and self-confessed tech-nerd. You can follow him on Twitter: @adamoram.

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