Android – web browsing still not fit for purpose!

I have been using Android on various devices since version 1.5 (HTC Hero phone). I’d consider myself a techy, power user.

Even with my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with the huge screen and fast CPU, Android still fails miserably with web browsing. I hate the experience and often end up giving up using it. Why? Read on…

Ok, try this on an average Android phone. Use v4 or v5 of the OS, it will result in the same frustration! Go into your browser and open the desktop version of Facebook. Not the mobile version. Good luck with that. Firstly, some browsers completely fail to open the desktop version, no matter what you do. Others open it and then begin to struggle.

Assuming you have managed to get the desktop version open, now try opening a private message. Using Firefox, Chrome, Puffin or the native browser results in the dialog box rendering on screen and then jumping around while the page updates. If I try seeing the whole conversation, the zoom levels force half the conversation off the page. If you bring up the on screen keyboard, it is even worse! The page updates are incredibly slow, so when you tap on an icon on screen, it won’t be registered until the next page refresh, by which time you end up actually tapping on something completely different.

Rinse and repeat. These results are fairly similar and typical across all the browsers I have tried.

I absolutely despise web browsing on Android! It isn’t all Android’s fault, but the OS doesn’t help. So, why am I not using the mobile version of the sites like Facebook? Because they invariably have far less functionality and/or a completely different layout. In that case, I have to learn where everything is in both versions of the site for when I’m on my laptop or on my mobile. Why should I? I don’t have the time or energy.

Now, try logging out of Facebook. Hint: the downward pointing arrow for the menu you need is in the far top right of the page. To tap it, you need to zoom in…however, zooming in often results in the arrow disappearing. Either because the page refresh doesn’t complete loading the page or because once zoomed in, you can’t seem to move the page around any more.

I have only used Facebook as an example, but this is common on sites with lots of on screen icons or menus. Static pages you find on sites like Wikipedia seem to be fine, yet with HTML5, Ajax calls and the sophistication of the likes of Javascript and dynamic pages, these simple, text heavy pages are becoming rarer.

Google and the app devs really need to sort this mess out. Even on a tablet with quad cores, navigating sites like Facebook is an absolute nightmare. I generally quit in disgust more than half the time I attempt to use the Internet on Android.

Here are the browsers I have tried:

Firefox, Chrome, Puffin, Samsung native, Opera, Dolphin – all the big names. Some work slightly better than others, but none are even close to being as consistent, fast or reliable as the actual desktop PC or laptop.



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