Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Nov 2012 12:23 UTC
Google After the short story on Chrome for Android not entirely living up to the promise of its desktop sibling, I went on a serious Android browser testing spree - fueled by suggestions from readers here and on Twitter. The conclusion? As much choice as there is, they all seem to be lacking in one important aspect: user interface. Ugly, inconsistent, non-Holo, confusing - and this applies to Chrome as much as it does to third party browsers. Since I really want a good Android browser, I sat down, and about 23 seconds later, I realised that all the ingredients for a really good and distinctive Android browser are right here in front of everyone using Android. Also: this approach would result in a tablet interface, all for free!
Order by: Score:
Firefox
by masennus on Fri 9th Nov 2012 13:41 UTC
masennus
Member since:
2011-02-11

Firefox on my N9 has a tab bar that slide out from the left. Not by edge swipe since that is an os-level gesture on the N9, but by scrolling all the way to the left and then some. Does the android version work different somehow?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Firefox
by brion on Fri 9th Nov 2012 14:29 UTC in reply to "Firefox"
brion Member since:
2010-11-04

The original versions of Firefox on Android worked this way, but it wasn't popular and there were performance problems. The new 'native' Android UI uses the Android menu button (where available) or action bar (where no menu button). Tab controls are accessible from a drop-down menu.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Firefox
by Radio on Fri 9th Nov 2012 14:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Firefox"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

The original versions of Firefox on Android worked this way, but it wasn't popular and there were performance problems.

It was also too easy to end up into the left (or right) sidebar while simply moving around a page. Elasticity or repeats weren't helping, as it made it more difficult to open or close those elements.

It is still a nice idea, but we need something more to make it work: touch areas outside the screen, around it. The WebOS Palms had it (a tactile area below the screen), and it was genius, as it opened the possibilty of gestures (coherent with the rest of the interface) without the risk of interacting with on-screen elements. Edge swipes are too tricky without it.

But alas, I am asking for an hardware modification, a new standard design... which is hard to get.

The fact that even a relative moron such as myself can come up with this means it must have occurred to smarter people as well.
I think they tried it but weren't satisfied with it. Like Mobile Firefox did when it was named Fennec.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Firefox
by some1 on Fri 9th Nov 2012 14:44 UTC in reply to "Firefox"
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

Yes, you need to press a button (similar to Thom's screenshot) that makes tabs list slide down, using the full screen width. It works fairly nice in portrait -- there's enough space for a preview and page title. In landscape it's a bit wasteful.

Reply Score: 2

Don't agree.
by vasko_dinkov on Fri 9th Nov 2012 14:43 UTC
vasko_dinkov
Member since:
2005-09-13

If there aren't page thumbs in the sidebar, it wouldn't be as intuitive.

If there are thumbnails in the sidebar, it would be very tall and require vertical scrolling - I much prefer horizontal arrangement/scrolling in that case (like on iPhone).

Also keeping the button is quite important for some reasons:
- for new users it won't be obvious they have to swipe to show the tab bar
- a tap on a button is (maybe arguably) easier than an edge swipe

Reply Score: 1

Side-swiping is annoying
by rft183 on Fri 9th Nov 2012 15:20 UTC
rft183
Member since:
2005-08-11

I use Dolphin quite a bit, but I really don't like the side-swiping. I accidentally open the side panels all the time just trying to scroll around the webpage. I would prefer it to be under a button, preferably the Android Menu button, so that I do not have to have another button on the screen.

Reply Score: 1

Sounds like a project to me...
by Morgul on Fri 9th Nov 2012 15:32 UTC
Morgul
Member since:
2005-07-06

I really like these interface ideas, but I have to ask, why don't we (OSNews readers) build a prototype? No, we can't build a browser that can compete with Chrome/Firefox... but we can use the web control given to us by the android UI, and that whould be good enough. (Isn't this what Dolphin does?)

The key here is that the UI would be the goal, not the end result of a browser. We would want it functional, but the fact that it is a browser should be secondary to illustrating the concept of "this is how a browser on Android should look." License it with MIT or even WTFPL. Possible even structure it so that pulling the UI into another project's prety easy. Encourage some of the alternate browsers to use it. And, if no one adopts it, well... then we can focus on getting the browser portion competitive.

I haven't done more than cursory Android development, and have too many project on my plate to jump into learning, at the moment, but surely there's some andoid developer out there with some spare time? (If not, I'll probably end up tackling it eventually.)

Reply Score: 2

Tabs?
by stestagg on Fri 9th Nov 2012 20:29 UTC
stestagg
Member since:
2006-06-03

Thom,

How many tabs do you have open generally?

If you're syncing them, I assume many?

Did you try only having a few tabs, does that fix the chrome issues you've been seeing?

Reply Score: 2

In Opera's defence...
by Spiron on Sat 10th Nov 2012 12:54 UTC
Spiron
Member since:
2011-03-08

In opera's defence they are working at a browser interface that is inherited from older OS's than Android and more importantly are working WITH more devices than Android. As an added comment I find that their interface, while not perfect nor Holo, is certainly really good and fairly easy to navigate and use. I find it easier to use than the Firefox UI, both because the tabs are arranged nicely and the visible back/forward buttons.

Reply Score: 1

Stock Android browser
by benoitb on Sat 10th Nov 2012 14:01 UTC
benoitb
Member since:
2010-06-29

I'm quite happy with the stock ICS browser (not Chrome). You only need to push 1 button and you get previews of the windows that you can close in the same way as the task switcher.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Stock Android browser
by Boldie on Sun 11th Nov 2012 09:24 UTC in reply to "Stock Android browser"
Boldie Member since:
2007-03-26

Me too. I use it with "Quick controls" and "Quick controls extended" and browser in fullscreen mode.

Slide to bring up the controls. There are areas of improvement but it is still the best I've found so far.

Here are the first example I could find:

http://hackslurp.com/2012/01/06/ics-browser-plus-is-the-enhanced-va...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Stock Android browser
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 11th Nov 2012 10:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Stock Android browser"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Looks awesome - too bad it's ICS only and I'm on JB for both my tablet and phone ;) .

Reply Score: 1

Chrome
by steviant on Sun 11th Nov 2012 10:25 UTC
steviant
Member since:
2006-01-11

Personally I like the swipe to the next and previous tabs at the edge of the screen idea. I'd much rather be able to switch between the current tab and the next/previous tab with a swipe than have a list of tabs popping up.

What I'd really like to see is an easy way to close the tabs without having to bring up a menu or a list of tabs. Going to a swipe-activated list of tabs would be a regression IMO.

Reply Score: 1

did u try holoweb?
by Spoonman on Mon 12th Nov 2012 05:30 UTC
Spoonman
Member since:
2009-02-26

didnt test it myselfs, as i use boat browser because i like its ui a lot, but holoweb should be the browser that is designed after android ui principles and thus may fit your needs...

Reply Score: 1

not really but is..
by jimmystewpot on Tue 13th Nov 2012 08:41 UTC
jimmystewpot
Member since:
2006-01-19

I've ditched all the browsers on android except Auroa which is the next version of firefox.. i.e. Firefox -> Firefox Beta -> Aurora.

While there are occasional bugs the speed is fabulous and it's constantly updated which means that some experimental features are included then revoked or kept.. I find it the best browser on my 4.2inch Desire HD and Nexus 7.. on my Touchpad with Cyanogen mod it crashes regularly.. not sure why yet i have not had time to debug it.

Reply Score: 1

PA
by JrezIN on Tue 13th Nov 2012 22:58 UTC
JrezIN
Member since:
2005-06-29

maybe you should consider using a ParanoidAndroid rom, that way you can force each apps layout and DPI setting; so you can force the Chrome's tablet layout with visible tabs even in normal phones. Give it a try.

Reply Score: 2