Many modern smartphones and tablets offer plenty of power and connectivity for doing the things that we want to do on our devices. And because devices have become more and more powerful, so the applications we run on them are also typically getting larger, more complicated and more demanding of the hardware. For the most part, this is transparent to the user: we don't notice that the application needs more power behind it, because our devices are more powerful. However, what happens when we run the same applications on a lesser powered device, or when our connection to the Internet drops off 4G LTE to 3G or even a GPRS or EDGE connection? In the case of our web browser, we may be waiting for the page to either download or render.
The Google Chrome web browser for the Android platform is a great example of a heavyweight application that has been scaled up to cope with modern devices and internet connections. At the time of writing, the Chrome browser is up to version 49 and has arguably lost some of the original appeal: it was designed to present a clean user interface with fast, consistent browsing. Over time, the Chrome browser has swollen such that the file is now a quoted 56 MB before installation (and typically more than 70 MB after installation) and now requires Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later to run. On older, slower devices such as the 2012 Google Nexus 7 tablet, the Chrome Browser can take several seconds to open. If there's a tab already containing a web page, the delay can be noticeably longer. Waiting thirty seconds to view a web page quickly becomes a frustrating experience when the site is already loaded.
Fortunately, there could be an alternative: installing a lightweight web browser is one such trick and with this in mind, I'd like to introduce the APUS Browser. This lightweight web browser has a typical installation size of under 7 MB, giving it a much smaller footprint compared with the Google Chrome browser. The APUS Browser is faster to launch and quicker to render web pages compared with the Google Chrome browser, although the difference in speed depends on the site in question. The browser also has a special “performance mode,” which removes images and some formatting code for an even quicker but cut down browsing experience. The performance mode is perfect if you are viewing the web over a slow Internet connection. Furthermore, the APUS Browser includes an Ad Blocker as standard, which can reduce Internet traffic by preventing the browser from downloading certain adverts.
In use, the APUS Browser is often a better experience on older, slower hardware compared with the Google Chrome browser. It is missing certain features: for example, it does not synchronize bookmarks or history with your Google account and switching between different tabs is clumsy and awkward. However, the developers have included a “night mode,” which optimizes the screen for viewing in the dark. It's easy to change the default search engine provider and the browser includes a incognito mode for private browsing, too.
In my use, I missed the ability to synchronize my bookmarks and visited pages between my tablets, however I concede that for visiting a web page in a hurry the APUS Browser is usually meaningfully quicker than the Google Chrome browser. I enjoyed the APUS Browser's minimalist user interface and I will be watching how the browser is developed over the coming months and years. Check out the browser on the Google Play Store here.