The browser is the biggest gap in my Android experience right now

I often see people who say that they don’t use tablets or laptops much, but instead use their phones. That’s something I envy, because that means that your computer experience is fully pocketable(s.com). I’ve been looking at why I myself always feel naked when I only have my phone, and I think it comes down to one specific type of app that I still haven’t found a good option for: the browser.

At this point you’re probably thinking “oh this guy can’t have tried XXXX.” That might very well be true, but I’m also not the kind of person who thinks the stock browser is the only alternative. Back on Gingerbread I used Dolphin browser because of the Lastpass plugin, but an increasing amount of bloat and issues in that app lead me to drop it when I upgraded to Jelly Bean. Ever since then, I’ve basically been switching back and forth between Chrome and Firefox, never really being satisfied with either.

Firefox is the browser I currently use. It has one big advantage, plug-ins. I’m able to have Lastpass in it, which is a major advantage. Unfortunately, I also find the app has a ton of issues. First off, the rounded look in the UI just looks non-Android, though it’s not a big issue. A bigger issue is the start page, which is a bloated pile of stuff I don’t want, including a big banner ad for Firefox sync, and my most recently used pages. There’s no way to set a home page, which is just silly in 2013. Another major issue is that it constantly misses the first thing I enter into the address bar when it launches, so that I have to redo it to make it “wake up” and go do its job.

Chrome would be the natural choice, but the Android version of it is…well, I don’t think Google has done very many things right for the last 2-3 years, and Chrome for Android is just another example. It lacks very basic functionality, like extensions, and you can’t even have it display a bookmarks bar. It doesn’t feel in any way like the browser I use on Windows, which means that having my bookmarks synced and generally liking how the browser looks and acts is little consolation.

It seems to me that Firefox and Chrome are both obsessed with having users use only one platform. The only problem is that neither is really better than the other, making both a pain to use. Either way, I feel that using a browser on my phone is just a pain because there’s no one browser that I think is actually good, and I think that’s what makes me miss my other gadgets when I use it.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets and tends to stick with his choice of device for a long time as a result of that. After a five year break from writing, he's back to share this view with the world once again.