The best mobile browser
For a long time I've been wondering why is mobile browsing such a convoluted experience. Back in 2007 when Jobs invented the smartphone, he never envisioned an app store, and for good reasons. The device he was selling had an internet browser and that was supposed to be enough. Having a browser is certainly enough for my desktop. I don't have to install a YouTube or Facebook app. I just type in the url and the site works. On mobile devices, you don't get that comfort.
What you get are three choices. Which are usually two. Go the mobile site. Go to the desktop site, if their mobile site is trash or non-existent. Or you download an app. The third choice is what most companies and developers are trying to steer you towards. I hate that third choice.
Let me explain why. It's one of the issues I have with Android, in fact. Having an extra app on your phone is a risky business that most users aren't aware of. A poorly designed app will drain your battery, your data and fill up your storage for no good reason.
Having an app instead of an optimized mobile site has become very trendy lately. Everyone is doing it. You even get spammed to install it when you try to access their lacklustre site in a mobile browser.
The way I see it, this is the true fragmentation of mobile OSes, not software versions, missing features or updates. And it's a two way problem that no one is trying to solve. The focus on apps is thoroughly misguided in my opinion. What the big companies should be working on is a mobile browser that can rival the desktop experience and push site developers to optimize accordingly.
I know I would rather have one app that can go to 200 sites and provide me with a good experience, as opposed to having 200 apps that each do one thing but provide me with a great experience.
And now to the point of this post. I've been looking for a mobile browser for a long time now. I was using Chrome beta until not too long ago but apart from some poor recent design choices, I was pretty happy. Happy in the thought that this was the best you could get while trying to browse the internet on a mobile device. But as good as Chrome is, it still has some big issues. It's a massive resource hog, it was turning my phone into a frying pan, and apart from big battery drain while using it, it had some nasty wakelocks that were unassailable.
I gave Firefox beta a chance but the scrolling speed killed the experience. Opera beta doesn't have a full screen mode. Dolphin has a very nasty UI and design. So, I thought Chrome was the lesser of evils. Until I found a great little browser that didn't promise much but completely ticked every box I had in mind when it comes to internet surfing.
Here is what it does right:
1.It has full screen browsing
2.It has a very low footprint, is less than 200 Kb, which is a feat of programming, in my book
3.It has great battery usage and no wakelocks. My battery life literally doubled since I got rid of Chrome. The phone stays nice and cool while browsing, they way it should.
4.Gesture controls. You can close, open, switch, go to the top or bottom of the page seamlessly, all without leaving full screen.
5.I haven't tested it, but it should work great with less powerful hardware. I'm going to see how good it scales on the Nexus 7, as soon as I get it, but the developer promised a good experience on just about every screen size.
6. The scrolling speed is quite fast and it doesn't hiccup.
Other things that are a nice addition: you get a message in browser if you lose connectivity, which bodes well if you use it in full screen mode. The interface is very barebones, so don't expect a great looking browser. This is a workhorse and I'm already sold. If you long press on links, you can set it to open them in a new tab. Oh, and unlike Google's best, it actually works with adblockers.
The only real disadvantage is that it isn't free. At least not the full version. But, from my point of view, it's more than worth it.
Before I forget, the browser I'm talking about is Naked Browser