Web browsers for Android
Firefox, the popular PC browser, has brought it's game to the small screen. Firefox is popping up on phones and tablets everywhere, bringing with it the novel idea of linking portable devices to home desktops. Doing so gives users a smooth transition between their home computers and lets them take their work on the go. Beyond this great idea, Firefox loses most of the spark kindled by the PC browser.
Add-ons are available, but when I tried to search for them none would show. It was kind of slow, occasionally freezing and not accepting link clicks. Firefox uses a lot of the device's resources making multitasking difficult. There is no exit button to completely exit the program, so users either need to hit the back button multiple times to back out or hit the home key and leave Firefox running in the background. Flashplayer is not included, making embedded videos unavailable.
While Dolphin isn't the fastest browser, it has some of the most interesting added features.
Starting with the home screen, speed dials present bookmarks for quick access to favorite websites, and a "webzine" tab offers quick access to rss feeds.
The features don't end there! Users can simply draw gestures for quick and intuitive commands such as back, close tab, and website bookmarks. Extra tool bars are hidden on the sides of the screen. Slide to the left for add-ons such as Google Services, a translator, a password keeper, and games. Not all add-ons are available for every device. Slide right to view a bookmark tool bar.
When launching a video from the website m.youtube.com, the screen automatically switches to landscape mode and the video goes to full-screen.
On exiting, the browser automatically offers to clear web history and cookies.
While it may not have as many bells and whistles as Dolphin, Opera ranked the best for speed. Opera compresses websites to reduce data usage and render pages faster. The reduced data usage helps with consumers on budgets and limited data plans.
Opera starts with a customizable list of shortcuts organized neatly with screen-shots or icons laid out in a visually appealing grid.
A menu option lets users control the font size without having to pinch and zoom. Users can also save pages for later review. This comes in handy if you want to read an article or view a webpage at a later time when data access might not be available.
Opera does not support flash so timers and other embedded media might not work. There is no exit button to easily leave the app. There are also complaints about inability to download large files.
Overall, Opera was a faster browser and worked well, and Dolphin had some of the most interesting features. They also ranked the highest in the Android Market. While each user's web usage needs are different, I highly recommend both of these browsers.
Firefox was a little plain and did not have any benefits for speed or data usage, and while there are some cool things that the developers of Firefox have come up with, I think they need to go back to the drawing board and bring back a product that better fits the reputation that they have built with their PC browser.