I've long been dissatisfied with the way mobile browsers work, and have set about creating something better.
The impetus for this project has been the following:
- The effect is often compounded by too many requests for various user tracking resources, affiliate resources, and advertising.
- Many sites have obnoxious advertising.
- Many sites have poorly implemented and limited-functionality mobile versions that I would prefer not to use.
To remedy these problems, I've built the "Atlas Web Browser", available now for download (as a beta). Like most everything I've published here on XDA, it follows a free/paid model, with a *real* free version (not a trial) and a paid add-on that hopes to appeal to power users.
The free version is of course ad-free. It doesn't collect/send ANY information to anyone; not anonymously, not to "special marketing partners", not in aggregate, not in a box, not with a fox, NOT AT ALL.
Atlas is being built with Material Design. Please bear in mind that at present Android L is still a developer preview and backward compatibility libraries are not available, and Atlas is targeting ICS, Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Android L. It thus can't present the complete Material Design experience until after Android L is released.
When you initially open Atlas, it displays your bookmarks:
Atlas has left and right slideouts that are used to switch between windows and control the browsing experience (respectively).
Swiping open the left slideout shows the open windows:
Swiping open the right slideout reveals the "Control Panel". The "Control Panel" provides you with control over the browsing experience:
The first item, "Content Filter" is used to enable or disable the filtering of advertising, privacy trackers, and nuisances that may slow down site performance. AdBlockPlus' "EasyList" filters are used for this purpose. You can enable or disable individual filters for privacy, advertising, and social media annoyances. Currently it's limited to the most popular EasyList filters, but this feature is being further expanded to be more flexible and customizable. Because the content filter can easily be turned on and off, you can leave it off to support sites that don't use offensive advertising.
The next item, "Browsing Mode" is fairly self-explanatory: it allows you to control which version of a site (desktop or mobile) is requested from the server. This may not work for some sites, as regrettably all we can do is *request* the desktop version.
The "Adjust Text Size" selector does its best to make up for Android's new Chromium browsing engine's lack of text reflow. You can also use a THREE-finger pinch-zoom gesture to adjust the text size without sliding out the control panel.
The "Atlas+" paid add-on currently adds the following items:
- Ability to open more than four tabs.
- Dual-view mode (view two sites at once: not recommended on phones for general use, but very useful for product comparisons).
- Ability to permanently save settings for individual sites, such that they are automatically applied when a site is visited.
While it's in beta you can simply check a box in the settings to make all features available (for the duration of the beta program). This check box is NOT checked by default.
Dual view mode in Atlas+
Site Settings Manager in Atlas+
Filter selection (all versions...needs to be expanded for additional and custom filters):
A few technical notes:
- Atlas is based on Android's WebView API, and thus will use the Android WebKit Browser on Android 4.0-4.3 and the Android Chromium Browser on Android 4.4 and Android L.
- Google removed support for proper "Private Browsing" in the Chromium API. Atlas works around this problem by using a second sandboxed browser process to provide private browsing, but unfortunately cookies cannot be enabled or we risk leaking them from the "normal" mode into the "private" mode due to severe deficiencies in the Android WebKit API design.
- Content filtering is performed using AdBlockPlus URL filters. These are currently sourced only from the "EasyList" filter collection, support for additional types of filters is being added (e.g. hosts-file style block lists).
- Content filter may not engage on the first site visited in a new browsing session (press reload if required)
- Option to manually enter content filter URLs is not yet available.
- Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...=nextapp.atlas
- Direct Download: http://android.nextapp.com/atlas/r79/Atlas_r79.apk