Most apps we review are generally aimed directly at the iPhone, as that’s the target developers particularly like. But every so often we find one that’s geared more toward the iPod touch, like Search Maestro HD, which lends its focus to those Apple users who are restricted to wi-fi hot spots when they’re looking to browse the web.
Having a basic web browser is no bad thing on a screen as small as the iPhone and iPod touch, and that’s another aspect to Search Maestro HD. It boils a search down into a vertically scrolling list of results that offer the page title, a bit of metadata, and nothing else. The list is presented very much in the style of Apple’s native applications, making it a breeze to skim through the results without any leftover nonsense from the desktop web browser experience.
It also has some quick navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen so you can jump ahead a screen at a time, though flicking through the list with a finger is hard to beat in terms of intuitive control.
But web searching is only the opener for Search Maestro HD. What this app really looks to achieve is offline browsing. By loading up a page from your search, you can save it to the device for viewing later. Admittedly, you’d need to perform this save manually for each page you wanted to check out later on, but for the iPod touch user who wants to check out their daily browsing when away from wi-fi this is a pretty tantalising feature.
And iPhone users will find it comes in handy, too, should you be heading out on the train, into the countryside, or anywhere else that a mobile data signal just can’t penetrate. A quick save of the page before you go offline and there’s no need to stand still on the edge of reception if there’s something you particularly want to look at.
This offline save feature also goes beyond HTML-based web pages, and includes most any other content you might find yourself browsing. This allows you to save a PDF, Word file or spreadsheet, for example, which are files that are actually more likely to require full, word-by-word consumption and would be useful to have them stored locally.
Search Maestro HD is quite a salesman, though. The application is rife with in-app purchases, and few seem to be based around functionality. Buying skins is evidently a popular choice, and it seems like no coincidence that the standard one is dark, and none too easy on the eye. It also allows you to buy access to different search engines (such as Bing), although the grandfather of the internet, Google, does at least come bundled.
So it’s not a cheap application, if you want to fully trick it out, but the primary purpose of offline viewing could be a very important part of the core application for just the right signal-less web surfer on-the-go.