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[APP][4.0+] Atlas Web Browser: Ad / Privacy Filters + Material Design

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tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
Hello,

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:

  • Web sites commonly use excessive JavaScript to an extent that pages take too long to finish loading, consume battery, data plan, and sometimes even make the device uncomfortably warm.
  • 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.
  • Many sites constantly annoy with JavaScript popups requesting that I download an app.

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 "Experience" selector controls what types of rich content are displayed. The "HI-FI" mode provides the full experience, while the "LO-FI" mode disables JavaScript and rich media. Using LO-FI can have a tremendous impact on performance, but may come at the expense of web site functionality. A final "TEXT" option can be useful in critical low-signal situations.

Atlas is hardly the first browser to offer the ability to turn JavaScript on and off, or to allow configuration of desktop-vs-mobile browsing. What's different here is that it's readily accessible all the time. When you encounter a site or circumstance where things are behaving poorly, you can often very readily correct the problem using the control panel.

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.

More screenshots:

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).

Known issues:

  • 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.

Download:

 

m0d

Senior Member
Nov 3, 2010
1,050
419
Great work.
Loving this browser from the get go.

It would be nice to have the option to go to home or bookmarks when last window is closed instead of exiting app.
Also, if you find a way to enable embedded video playback (such as youtube), that would be great. I am not sure why non of the other lightweight/open source browser have working media on web sItes as when I was using an old firefox beta it worked fine, video and audio.
Your browser only audio plays, video is all black

Great addition to your app collection, as FX file explorer sets the standard

EDIT:
Another useful detail would be to add the link url on the pop-up when long clicking links
I.E.
Screenshot_2014_07_25_19_37_58.png
 
Last edited:

henrik.dk

Senior Member
Jun 20, 2008
1,220
91
brilliant. I use firefox just because of the content filter.
I got an issue with access to engadget, the comment will not show up
even if I press show comment.
Another feature I like from firefox is the thumb view of the bookmark. I use it
as direct dial.
 
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D33KK

Senior Member
Sep 20, 2009
653
85
Seems really good so far, enjoying the slide from the left to open tabs. Prefer it to chrome so far!

Sent from my SM-G900F using XDA Free mobile app
 
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D33KK

Senior Member
Sep 20, 2009
653
85
Open Google.com on startup causes crash issues

When restarting the browser it doesn't save my 'load in mobile view' setting and reverts to desktop view

Sent from my SM-G900F using XDA Free mobile app
 
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m0d

Senior Member
Nov 3, 2010
1,050
419
Loving this Browser!!

Feature Request: Sharing a Picture immediately to other Apps (Messenger,Whatsapp,...) without saving it

I agree, sharing directly with photoeditor, too.

Another small thing would be for undoing close tab; for example, long click new tab for small popup to undo the last closed tab.
Are you planning to add history viewer?
 
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anonymous-bot

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2014
157
45
I'm liking this browser so far; it has a great look and it has builtin adblock. I would just like to see a couple features:

1. Allow a custom URL for the search engine. Firefox lets you long-press on a search field and add it as a search engine.

2. A built-in "Link Bubble" feature. Link Bubble is great but I despise using it since there is no adblock.
 

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
Great work.
Loving this browser from the get go.

It would be nice to have the option to go to home or bookmarks when last window is closed instead of exiting app.
Also, if you find a way to enable embedded video playback (such as youtube), that would be great. I am not sure why non of the other lightweight/open source browser have working media on web sItes as when I was using an old firefox beta it worked fine, video and audio.
Your browser only audio plays, video is all black

Great addition to your app collection, as FX file explorer sets the standard

EDIT:
Another useful detail would be to add the link url on the pop-up when long clicking links
I.E.
1dd93e14c7.f.png

Thanks,

Are you in HIFI mode? LOFI disables JavaScript and thus media playback generally won't work. Can you play the "freeing storage space" video on android.nextapp.com?

And definitely agree on the bookmarks/homepage scenario with closing the last window. Will do something akin to FX where you can double-tap back to exit if it's the last window (with the "press back again to exit" toast message).

I can't see the image in your edit, it just gives me a 1x1 pixel image.
 

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
I'm liking this browser so far; it has a great look and it has builtin adblock. I would just like to see a couple features:

1. Allow a custom URL for the search engine. Firefox lets you long-press on a search field and add it as a search engine.

2. A built-in "Link Bubble" feature. Link Bubble is great but I despise using it since there is no adblock.

Thanks!

You currently can change the search engine, but it's limited to a few choices: Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and Baidu. There are two URLs for each search engine, one for search (where an HTML page is the response) and one for suggestions (which is XML or JSON, I forget). In any case I do need to add this. Search engine selection is currently under settings / general.

Need to look into more options for background loading, there currently is a "open in new window in background" option if you long press on links, but it doesn't integrate with other apps.
 
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tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
I agree, sharing directly with photoeditor, too.

Another small thing would be for undoing close tab; for example, long click new tab for small popup to undo the last closed tab.
Are you planning to add history viewer?

Yes, long pressing on + button needs to reopen closed tab, didn't make the cut for first release but is a priority.

There is a history viewer, tap the back forward button in the action bar and then the "clock" icon to the far right. I need to also add this option into the "Privacy and User Data" settings.
 

tliebeck

Senior Member
Sep 15, 2010
1,839
4,325
Southern California
Open Google.com on startup causes crash issues

When restarting the browser it doesn't save my 'load in mobile view' setting and reverts to desktop view

Sent from my SM-G900F using XDA Free mobile app

Are you just opening Google.com or setting it as your home page? Just realized there's a bug if you're using a URL as your home page, make sure you put "http://" in front of it (and this is absolutely a bug in Atlas, no one should have to do that, it will be fixed).

Are you tapping "Save as Default" after you switch to mobile view? Modified settings won't be kept otherwise.

Thanks for reporting these!
 
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D33KK

Senior Member
Sep 20, 2009
653
85
Are you just opening Google.com or setting it as your home page? Just realized there's a bug if you're using a URL as your home page, make sure you put "http://" in front of it (and this is absolutely a bug in Atlas, no one should have to do that, it will be fixed).

Are you tapping "Save as Default" after you switch to mobile view? Modified settings won't be kept otherwise.

Thanks for reporting these!

Setting it as home page, then on app open it stays blank and says it's not responding. Tried the http:// an that seemed to sort it, cheers!

Yes I hit save mobile view as default! I'll mess around with it a bit tomorrow and see if I can get it sorted :highfive:
 
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m0d

Senior Member
Nov 3, 2010
1,050
419
Thanks,

Are you in HIFI mode? LOFI disables JavaScript and thus media playback generally won't work. Can you play the "freeing storage space" video on android.nextapp.com?

And definitely agree on the bookmarks/homepage scenario with closing the last window. Will do something akin to FX where you can double-tap back to exit if it's the last window (with the "press back again to exit" toast message).

I can't see the image in your edit, it just gives me a 1x1 pixel image.

I tried both Hi and Lo, in both cases only sound works, video plain black box.
I reuploaded image.

As for exit scenario, that would be perfect.

Yes, long pressing on + button needs to reopen closed tab, didn't make the cut for first release but is a priority.

There is a history viewer, tap the back forward button in the action bar and then the "clock" icon to the far right. I need to also add this option into the "Privacy and User Data" settings.

Yes, thanks, did not try clicking there. The history viewer is great.

Some more things I noticed:
  • Upon crash or forced quit - tabs are not restored to previous viewing state.
  • On image hosting sites, no file chooser is being proposed. On other browser I get to choose either fx file chooser or gallery, but with atlas nothing happens.
  • Google plus desktop view is cropped. I got this with other browsers as well, so not sure might be an issue with text wrap in webview or lack of.

This is what I get for plus pages:
Screenshot_2014_07_26_01_30_52.png

The left column gets cropped.
 
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fer2503

Senior Member
Nov 7, 2012
1,545
141
very good browser :D. But i have one problem. the user agent is always set todesktop mode. If i set mobile and save it as default, after close and re-open it the user agent is again in desktop mode. Any solution? (xperia z1 4.4.4)

edit: the app doesn't save changed default setting. when i close and re-open the app i get always the native setting
 
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drsood

Senior Member
Oct 25, 2010
317
38
Realme X2
This browser is awesome. It combines the best features of other browsers.

I have a few requests:
1) I use gmd gesture control app with swiping from right edge to left gesture as back action. Currenty in atlas browser, swiping from right has be linked with opening of default settings dialog. Can you add an option in the settings if the user wants to enable or disable swiping from right action. As there's already a button for bringing up the default settings dialog, i really dont need it

2) can you add an optional button as an exit action on the main interface so that i can exit the browser directly without accessing exit from the menu

By the way, another user has reported a bug that the default settings are not saved on force exiting the browser and i confirm it

Thanks and keep up the good work
 
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Mokura3rd

Member
Jul 26, 2014
24
10
A new mobile browser from the developer of the almighty FX File Explorer? That has built-in adblocking and actually lets you disable search engine suggestions? Heck yeah, I'm looking forward to this. One question, though: the "custom filter" issue seems to imply that you will add custom filter functionality in the future, but does this browser support element hiding rules? I just might be able to ditch Dolphin on my older tablet if it does (or will).
 

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  • 170
    Hello,

    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:

    • Web sites commonly use excessive JavaScript to an extent that pages take too long to finish loading, consume battery, data plan, and sometimes even make the device uncomfortably warm.
    • 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.
    • Many sites constantly annoy with JavaScript popups requesting that I download an app.

    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 "Experience" selector controls what types of rich content are displayed. The "HI-FI" mode provides the full experience, while the "LO-FI" mode disables JavaScript and rich media. Using LO-FI can have a tremendous impact on performance, but may come at the expense of web site functionality. A final "TEXT" option can be useful in critical low-signal situations.

    Atlas is hardly the first browser to offer the ability to turn JavaScript on and off, or to allow configuration of desktop-vs-mobile browsing. What's different here is that it's readily accessible all the time. When you encounter a site or circumstance where things are behaving poorly, you can often very readily correct the problem using the control panel.

    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.

    More screenshots:

    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).

    Known issues:

    • 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.

    Download:

    16
    A 2.0 version is under development presently...hope to have a beta out soon. Trying to get IAP fully ironed out as an option to buy the plus key (existing method of buying a separate APK will of course continue to be supported).

    Primary focus of 2.0 is a rebuild of the UI around actual Material Design APIs (Atlas 1 was built before they existed). And quite a bit of bugfixing.

    20test.png
    13
    @tliebeck

    Everything fine with you? Did development stopped?

    Working heavily on FX, but will have an Atlas update soon.
    12
    Atlas 0.88 Released


    Direct download: http://android.nextapp.com/atlas/r88/Atlas_r88.apk
    Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nextapp.atlas

    This release adds some improvements, from this thread and Play Store feedback:

    • Added capability to import bookmarks.html files (visit Settings->Bookmarks) You can export a bookmarks.html from Chrome or Firefox. I believe this might have to be done on the Desktop version of Chrome, as they might have removed this feature from the Android version.
    • Fixed bug where default site settings were not being saved after Atlas was closed.
    • Fixed bug where visiting about:blank would generate a crash warning.
    • Find-in-page now shows soft keyboard automatically.
    • Added support for HTTP authentication.
    • Fixed share feature so that chooser is always displayed.
    • Misc bug/crash fixes.

    EDIT: This release is now available on the Play Store
    12
    I've not read the entire flamewar here over development. Development is still ongoing, but currently trying to get another major update to FX out the door. I spend 60-80 hours/week developing my applications, that's pretty much all I can do. Atlas will see updates, but bear in mind that FX sees 50 times the amount of daily downloads, so it has to be the priority.

    If you bought the paid add-on and are dissatisfied due to the lack of recent updates (or for any other reason), please just email [email protected] with your Google order number and request a refund.

    The biggest problem I see with Atlas right now is the crashes of the browsing engine. Unfortunately this problem is due to Google's code failing, and there's essentially no way to correct it. This is a problem for any browser that relies upon Android's internal browsing engine, and in some cases is exacerbated by retrieving desktop sites. The Android browser API is very poorly designed, and there appears to be no way to trap these errors (they're happening in Google's native C code, not in their Java code). The only real solution to this problem is to ship a complete Chromium (or other) browser engine behind Atlas, which will balloon the APK file from 1MiB to 50MiB, or to wait for your OEM to update your device to a newer / more stable browser engine with an Android update.