Why use Chrome or Safari on a smartphone when there are multiple new-age browsers to choose from?
Browsers are essential to the internet experience. They are often our first gateway to a world of knowledge, information, and entertainment.
With increasing smartphone penetration, mobile browsing is on the rise too, especially in emerging markets across Asia and Africa. In India, for instance, mobile traffic tops desktop traffic in a 4:1 ratio, according to a 2018 Statista report.
As a result, a variety of mobile browsers are now being sampled by users who want to experience the web effortlessly on their five-inch screens. Besides mobile versions of popular web browsers, i.e., Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera, several app-only browsers are gaining ground, especially on Android.
Developers are using Google’s open source project ‘Chromium’ and WebKit (the engine that also runs iOS Safari) to roll out attractive, user-friendly, secure mobile browsing apps.
While Chrome for Android continues to lead the market, YourStory drew up a list of alternative browser apps that not only break the monotony of mobile browsing, but are also light on device storage and high on user controls.
Dolphin Browser, developed by Sequoia Capital-backed MoboTap, was one of the first alternative browsers to support multi-touch gestures. It allows users to draw letters on their touchscreen phones to open certain websites. So, while a ‘T’ for Twitter and ‘F’ for Facebook come preloaded, you can feed the browser with custom gestures too. Dolphin’s voice search feature Sonar lets you browse, share on social networks, bookmark websites, and navigate the entire web without typing a word. Available on both Android and iOS, Dolphin Browser has recorded over 150 million downloads.
Utah-based startup Cake, backed by Kickstart Seed Fund among others, wants to ‘reimagine’ mobile browsing by making it a visually appealing experience. The startup launched Cake Browser earlier this year and it picked up word of mouth for its Tinder-like ‘swipeable search’ feature that makes browsing a noticeably different experience. It minimises search time by suppressing the search index and preloading pages in the background after you’ve searched for a word or a topic. Cake fast-loads pages even on a 3G connection. The browser has recorded over a 100,000 Play Store downloads.
Flynx, developed by Noida-based startup InfiKen Labs, operates on a floating window form unlike other browsers that take up the entire screen and force you to abandon all current activity. You can open Flynx tabs even as other apps run in the background. Flynx’s quick read mode eliminates ads and loads only the relevant content thus saving time and data. The browser also supports offline download of pages for later consumption. Flynx has notched up over 500,000 downloads on Play Store, and has been translated into over 15 international languages by volunteers.
Kiwi, developed by an Estonia-based Android developer, hit Play Store in April, and has already been downloaded 100,000 times. It is available on Android only because iOS does not support third-party browsers. Kiwi packs in a crypto-mining blocker that prevents hackers from using one’s phone’s CPU to generate cryptocurrencies. The browser also supports background play of videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Kiwi is aggressive when it comes to blocking ads, trackers and notifications, and it auto-accepts cookie compliances as well.
Firefox Focus is Mozilla’s new browser that focuses on user privacy and security. It started out as an ad-blocking app on iOS in late 2015, but was rolled out as a full-fledged browser across platforms last year. It notched up over a million downloads in a month. On Firefox Focus, every session is in private mode. It allows one-tap browsing history deletion, blocking for third-party ads and all kinds of web trackers. These strong filters make pages lighter and help them load fast. The blocking features are enabled by default.
MCent, developed by Jana Mobile, is a browser that rewards you with free data for browsing. Listed on Play Store as the “recharge browser”, mCent has recorded over 10 million downloads. The browser tracks your usage and awards you points with every site you open. You can redeem these points to buy recharge packs from your mobile operator or utilise them to pay off a phone bill. The browser also offers bonuses when you engage with ads or refer the app to friends. Till date, it is said to have distributed over 4.5 billion GB free data to users.