[App Fridays] A homegrown mobile browser is out to make one-handed browsing cool
Browsers are essential. They are usually our first gateway to the internet.
While Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, Opera, and other conventional browsers dominate the market, a host of alternate, app-only browsers have gained ground of late. This is because mobile browsing is on the rise, especially in emerging markets across Asia and Africa. Users are increasingly opting for lighter, data-friendly browsers to surf the web. In India, for instance, mobile traffic outnumbers desktop traffic in a 4:1 ratio, according to a 2018 report by Statista.
This prompted One Handy Apps, a little-known mobile app developer from Tamil Nadu, to build a light, fast, and secure mobile browser. The app’s most interesting feature, however, is one-handed usage. That is what gives OH Web Browser its name. (‘OH’ stands for one-handed.)
With smartphone sizes growing bigger by the day, it is nearly impossible to use them with just one hand. But, not when you’re surfing on OH Browser. The app’s ‘Reachability’ feature lets you access the browser with one hand by simply pulling down the screen from the top, shifting your entire browsing activity to the bottom of the device.
Besides one-handed usage, the app follows a “no permissions” policy. So, unlike other browser apps, OH does not ask for access to the user’s camera, microphone, location, storage, contacts, messages, or any other identification.
Additionally, there is no Firebase analytics connected to the browser. Hence, users’ browsing behaviour is not tracked, upping its privacy quotient. It also has a powerful ad blocker, and offers a night mode. The app is free to use but also has a paid version (one-time fee of Rs 99) with premium features.
OH Browser hit Google Play Store in September 2018, and has crossed 10,000 downloads. It is rated 4.4 out of 5, and users have praised its clean UI and minimalistic approach to design.
YourStory spent some time browsing on OH.
You start by selecting a menu bar style. This includes simple icons that will guide your browsing activity.
Type in the URL in the next step. Or, choose from a preset of popular sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, and others.
The menu bar at the bottom contains a Search icon, a Tab icon (5 tabs can be opened at a time on the free version), a Hand icon (to make presets disappear or adjust the size of the browsing screen), and an icon for Access Controls.
‘Access Controls’ include a rich array of features: bookmarks, history, private browsing, dark mode, no-images mode, PDF converter, page translator, and a full-screen mode. Volume controls and screen rotation are also available.
Pull down a webpage to reduce it to any viewing size on the screen.
OH has a gorgeous night/dark mode, which can be enabled through the access control icon. This reduces light consumption by the screen, thereby saving battery life on the device.
You can switch multiple tabs through simple finger gestures. ‘Right’ opens the later tab, and ‘left’ takes you to the former tab.
All tabs can be shut simultaneously by hitting ‘Close All’. Individual tabs can be closed by hitting the ‘x’ icon on every page.
Finally, the Settings tab allows you to block/enable ads and trackers, secure screen (which disables all screenshots) and start private browsing. You can also adjust text size, and select different themes.
This browser is OH-so-cool
If we could sum up OH Web Browser in a word, we’d call it nifty. It is akin to a quick hack or something like a pro-tip tech bloggers would pass on to their audience. Very little is known about OH, but that doesn’t make it any less effective or attractive.
It will appeal to those looking for a clean, frictionless mobile browsing experience that is also smooth, secure, high-speed, and ad-free. Most importantly, OH takes up less than 7MB of storage on a device. That is at least 4-5x lesser than browser apps like Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, etc.
Lastly, this is one app where there are no log-ins, no OTP verifications, no reminders, no notifications, and basically, no intrusions.
For users who install 50+ apps (the Indian smartphone average, according to techARC) and get inundated with alerts all day, OH is a refreshing break.