The state of mobile browsers 12 August, 2014

browsersThis isn’t a technical post, but a rant from a user’s point of view rather. I’m going to talk about mobile browsers on Android, as that’s the device I own. I don’t know what the situation is like on iOS, Windows or other. But I do hope it’s better.

Currently I have three browsers installed on my phone, and that is just ludicrous. The three browsers are: Dolphin, Chrome & Firefox.

I started off with Dolphin and, for a time, everything was peachy. Then web pages started to become more complex and the poor Dolphin started crashing on some of them. It was then that I installed Chrome and decided to start using it as my primary mobile browser. It wasn’t bad, but as soon as I visited a text heavy, not mobile optimised, web page, such as HackerNews, things went completely tits-up. Chrome simply can’t re-flow the text so it would be readable. Just look at the comparison between Dolphin (which rocks in this area) and Chrome:

dolphinvschrome

Seriously … at least Chrome got a bit better, as it’s no longer applying random font sizes as it’s re-flow algorithm.

So I started using Dolphin for some pages, and Chrome for others. At this point I installed Firefox, hoping it got better from the last time I used it, and that it handles text re-flow properly. I was wrong. But I kept it, as at about this point Chrome started crashing. Or it would load a page, and then go blank.

So now I’m juggling three browsers. Which is annoying. And not just because my history, bookmarks & sessions are scattered across three different browsers. But also, and this is a big one, I have to gamble every time I open a link from a native app (email, facebook, …). Gambling in the sense that I have no idea if the particular link will work in the browser I selected. Sometimes it takes three attempts to get it right.

What a pathetic state of affairs. I guess I should cross my fingers and install Opera now.

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