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20 May 12 How to make Android faster, more productive and more secure than iPhone


IPhone users love to brag about their phones. They line up around the block and stand in line for hours when a new one is released. Yet, for many users, Android is clearly the superior platform. Yes, its Achilles’ heel is a big one: security. Android’s openness and large market share mean that it’s a juicy target for attackers.

iOS vs. Android in the enterprise

[ Free download: The mobile security survival guide ]

Yet, Android’s openness also provides serious benefits. It allows for more customization; its apps are usually cheaper and various handset manufacturers are able to offer significantly different form factors, such as the smartphone-tablet hybrid, the Samsung Galaxy Note.

With a little tweaking, you can speed up and optimize Android in ways that will make iPhone users’ heads spin. Here are 10 ways to make Android faster, more productive and more secure than iPhone:

Make your Android faster

1. Get a better browser.

One of the major benefits of using the popular browser Opera Mini is that its cloud engine compresses data by as much as 90%. It features tabbed browsing, support for widgets and the ability to set advanced privacy features, such as the ability to automatically clear passwords, cookies and browsing history.

The advantage for Android users: the ability to use Opera Mobile instead of Opera Mini. Opera Mobile supports Flash and 3D graphics, has an HTML 5 engine and has a device-side web rendering engine for higher fidelity browsing. You can set up the rendering engine to work locally when on a Wi-Fi network and default to the cloud-based rendering engine when on a 3G or 4G network to minimize expensive data usage (if you’re not on an all-you-can-eat data plan). It also allows you to access your camera from your browser. Expect cool new widgets to start using this feature soon.

2. Install an Android optimizer.

Apps like Android Booster and Android Assistant give you the power to automatically kill apps that run in the background, gobbling up battery life and draining CPU. You can set a monthly data limit and monitor exactly how much data you’ve downloaded over 3G and 4G networks, and you can purge your cache, history, etc.

3. Conserve your battery.

Nothing slows you down more than a dead battery. One advantage Android phones have over iPhones is that you can swap out your battery. But proper power management can save you from that trouble. Apps like JuiceDefender and Battery Stretch help you regulate your power use.

With more than 7 million downloads, JuiceDefender is the most popular of these apps. It offers three different profiles: “Balanced,” “Aggressive” or “Extreme.”

The Balanced setting is the default and requires no configuration on your part. If you bump it up to “Aggressive,” the app will automatically disable data connections when the battery is low. If you’re really worried about a dead battery, the “Extreme” setting disables data connections by default. You can turn them back on manually, and you are able to whitelist apps that you want to have connectivity.

Make your Android more productive

4. Dig deeper into which apps hog data.

If you constantly go over your data limits, an app like Android Assistant may not be enough. Sure, you will be alerted when you are nearing your limit, but what exactly is causing the problem?

Is it Facebook, podcasting software, the MLB Gameday app? Who knows?

Article source: http://www.itworld.com/software/276921/how-make-android-faster-more-productive-and-more-secure-iphone

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14 May 12 How to Make Android Faster, More Productive and More Secure Than iPhone


IPhone users love to brag about their phones. They line up around the block and stand in line for hours when a new one is released. Yet, for many users, Android is clearly the superior platform. Yes, its Achilles’ heel is a big one: security. Android’s openness and large market share mean that it’s a juicy target for attackers.

iOS vs. Android in the enterprise

Yet, Android’s openness also provides serious benefits. It allows for more customization; its apps are usually cheaper and various handset manufacturers are able to offer significantly different form factors, such as the smartphone-tablet hybrid, the Samsung Galaxy Note.

With a little tweaking, you can speed up and optimize Android in ways that will make iPhone users’ heads spin. Here are 10 ways to make Android faster, more productive and more secure than iPhone:

Make your Android faster

1. Get a better browser.

One of the major benefits of using the popular browser Opera Mini is that its cloud engine compresses data by as much as 90%. It features tabbed browsing, support for widgets and the ability to set advanced privacy features, such as the ability to automatically clear passwords, cookies and browsing history.

The advantage for Android users: the ability to use Opera Mobile instead of Opera Mini. Opera Mobile supports Flash and 3D graphics, has an HTML 5 engine and has a device-side web rendering engine for higher fidelity browsing. You can set up the rendering engine to work locally when on a Wi-Fi network and default to the cloud-based rendering engine when on a 3G or 4G network to minimize expensive data usage (if you’re not on an all-you-can-eat data plan). It also allows you to access your camera from your browser. Expect cool new widgets to start using this feature soon.

See Related Slideshow: Smartphone Browser Alternatives

2. Install an Android optimizer.

Apps like Android Booster and Android Assistant give you the power to automatically kill apps that run in the background, gobbling up battery life and draining CPU. You can set a monthly data limit and monitor exactly how much data you’ve downloaded over 3G and 4G networks, and you can purge your cache, history, etc.

3. Conserve your battery.

Nothing slows you down more than a dead battery. One advantage Android phones have over iPhones is that you can swap out your battery. But proper power management can save you from that trouble. Apps like JuiceDefender and Battery Stretch help you regulate your power use.

With more than 7 million downloads, JuiceDefender is the most popular of these apps. It offers three different profiles: “Balanced,” “Aggressive” or “Extreme.”

The Balanced setting is the default and requires no configuration on your part. If you bump it up to “Aggressive,” the app will automatically disable data connections when the battery is low. If you’re really worried about a dead battery, the “Extreme” setting disables data connections by default. You can turn them back on manually, and you are able to whitelist apps that you want to have connectivity.

Make your Android more productive

4. Dig deeper into which apps hog data.

If you constantly go over your data limits, an app like Android Assistant may not be enough. Sure, you will be alerted when you are nearing your limit, but what exactly is causing the problem?

Is it Facebook, podcasting software, the MLB Gameday app? Who knows?

Well, with Onavo you can find out. The main menu displays statistics on your data use over the prior month, and it fingers the apps hogging the most bandwidth. Many of these are obvious, such as any video or streaming app, but I was surprised to see how much data Google Calendar used with its constant synching, and after consulting with Onavo, I decided to synch less frequently

You’ll also discover the apps that go online even when they haven’t been launched. Don’t be surprised to see that many games do this, so if you haven’t played them in a while, you might want to get rid of them. Otherwise, those free Android games may end up costing you money if they push you over your data limit.

For international travelers, Onavo can help you avoid (or limit) costly data roaming charges.

And Onavo is actually an app that has more octane on iPhone, for which it will also compress data. (On Android, this feature is currently limited to Ice Cream Sandwich users.)

5. Tether your phone.

So you’ve signed up for an expensive all-you-can-eat data plan, yet when you try to tether your laptop to your phone to use that 4G connection you paid a premium for, you are stymied. Carriers will try to charge you $20 or $30 a month for tethering privileges, meaning they’re trying to charge you twice for network access that you’ve really already purchased.

For most people, this is more of a nuisance than anything. Wi-Fi is available everywhere, but if you are using your laptop for business, wouldn’t it be smarter to stay on a 4G network rather than connecting to an open Wi-Fi one?

On iPhone, tethering is a no-go. On Android, tethering may technically violate your user license, but you can do it, and you no longer need to root your phone. Apps like Clockworkmod’s Tether will have you up and running in a few minutes.

Tether isn’t a free app, but at $4.99, one stay in a hotel that still charges for Wi-Fi will make this app a no-brainer.

6. Pick your own keyboard.

Siri has been getting all kinds of press lately, and, sure, it can be amusing to try to get Siri to say off-color things. Yet, when I’m using data on my phone, I prefer text-based input.

For years, one of the main reasons I’ve considered iPhone inferior is its hostility to apps like Swype. On Android, you have the ability to choose your own keyboard. (Well, iPhone users can jailbreak their phones to get Swype, but that fact reinforces my point.)

Many Android phones come with Swype pre-loaded, but it’s not usually the default keyboard. Just press any text entry area for a few seconds and a menu will pop up. Select “Input method” and then choose “Swype.” That’s it.

I used to avoid texting like the plague because I hated entering data on my phone. That all changed with Swype, which lets you drag your finger across the screen from letter to letter. Its predictive engine figures out what word you are going for (it gets better the more you use it), and you just keep chugging along.

I can’t Swype as fast as I type, but I’m a fast typist. Scroll around the Inter-webs a bit, and you’ll find plenty of people claiming to achieve 40 or 50 words per minute with Swype. And now that Swype has been acquired by Nuance, you should have even more input options coming your way soon.

Make your phone more secure

7. Turn on screen lock, but don’t use a pattern.

The easiest screen unlocking method is to trace a pattern on your screen. It’s easier and more convenient than entering a PIN or password. However, if you lose your phone or it is stolen, you better hope you just cleaned your screen.

The oil on your finger will leave a distinct pattern on your screen. Unless you wipe it down religiously after each unlocking, the pattern lock will only deter the stupidest criminals.

8. Install anti-virus software.

Why have you not done this already? Malware writers are flocking to Android. We’re seeing much of what happened in the desktop world being repeated with smartphones. Android is more open, has a larger market share and is a juicer target.

IPhone is a closed ecosystem and may eventually, like Mac, benefit from security through obscurity (though I doubt iPhone will ever shrink to Mac-like numbers). For iPhone users, this is good-news, bad-news scenario. Yes, Apple does more to lock down apps and prevent third-party software from exploiting key system resources, but you are trusting one company for your security. If Apple screws up, all iPhone users are in trouble. Exhibit A: the Path privacy fiasco.

Android, on the other hand, may be less secure due to its openness, but it’s welcoming to third-party security tools. There’s no excuse not to have anti-virus software on your phone. There are plenty of free options, such as Lookout, and with a simple download, you can significantly reduce your risks. Most of these antivirus apps also allow you to remotely lock and wipe your phone if it is lost or stolen, and some even allow you to set off an obnoxious alarm, which will either help you find the device if its tucked behind a couch cushion or convince a thief to toss it.

Of course, we’d like to see handset OEMs and the carriers bake antivirus into their various Android versions. It’s a simple step that would benefit them, carriers especially, saving bandwidth, protecting against fraudulent charges and so on. We would also like to see carriers adopt network-based mobile malware scanning, such as the solution from Kindsight Security Labs.

9. Stay away from App Stores you do not know.

Google has taken steps to tame the Wild West that was its Market. It now has a “Bouncer” that scans the Market for malware, and despite what Apple apologists may claim, Android was designed from the get-go to make malware less disruptive on phones than it is on PCs by sandboxing apps and forcing apps to ask for permissions (yes, the same permissions that everyone just ignores, but at least they tried).

The trouble is that Android users can download apps anywhere. Don’t be lured into doing this. If you aren’t using Android Market, make sure you are in a store you know and trust, such as Amazon. Most Android models come with the default setting that doesn’t allow you to download apps from “unknown sources.” If you’ve fallen for social-engineering attacks in the past, it’s best to leave that box checked.

When you download an app, try to get into the practice of checking permissions. If a game wants to send out SMS messages, for instance, that should be a red flag.

10. Stay away from mobile payments.

Mobile payments are starting to take off, especially in Europe and Asia, and consumers should be wary. The problem with mobile payments is that they are often simply added to your mobile phone bill, and if you find a suspicious charge, your liability will vary from carrier to carrier.

In contrast, if a hacker gets your credit card number and goes on a spending spree, under federal law, your maximum liability for credit card fraud is $50. In other words, credit card fraud is not your problem, it’s the bank’s. Until you have that level of protection for mobile payments, it’s probably smarter and safer to stick with the credit card.

Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Jeff Vance is the founder of Sandstorm Media, a copywriting and content marketing firm. He regularly contributes stories about emerging technologies to this publication and many others. If you have ideas for future articles, contact him at jeff@sandstormmedia.net or http://twitter.com/JWVance.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World’s Anti-malware section.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/255549/how_to_make_android_faster_more_productive_and_more_secure_than_iphone.html

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26 Jan 12 Best browser 2012: which should you be using?


Competition among browsers is more fierce than ever.

Google’s knocking out new versions of Chrome at an alarming rate, Mozilla’s been pulling nightshifts to improve Firefox, and Microsoft’s rejuvenated IE team is doing great things with its browser.

There are great browsers from Opera and Apple too, not to mention mobile browsers for smartphones and tablets.

So which browser should you be using?

Let’s find out which ones offer the best blend of power, expandability and all-round awesomeness.

The best browser for speed

We tested the latest official releases of the big browsers: IE9, Safari 5.1, Firefox 9, Chrome 16 and Opera 11.6 to see how they performed on the desktop. All of the big browsers deliver speedy browsing, but there are still differences when it comes to things such as JavaScript performance, which affects the speed at which web apps and complex websites work.

In the Sunspider JavaScript benchmarks Firefox left its rivals in the dust, storming through the tests in a hugely impressive 189.4ms. Safari was next with 219.6ms, followed by IE9 (247.9ms), Opera (254.3ms) and Chrome (291.0ms). We saw similar results in Windows Vista, with Firefox narrowly pipping its rivals to take first place.

These figures are based on brand new installations without any plugins, extensions or similar: once you start loading your browser up with goodies, performance is likely to take a nose-dive.

Firefox

WOW: Firefox is the speed king on Windows and on OS X, but there isn’t much in it: all the browsers are swift

The best browser for add-ons

You can get add-ons for all the main browsers, but Firefox has the edge here: its huge number of add-ons and Greasemonkey scripts mean that its reputation as the Swiss Army Knife of web browsers is well deserved. It’s far and away the most expandable web browser, and it’s got the best browser sync features too. Bear in mind, though, that all of the main browsers are expandable, and while some – such as Safari – don’t have enormous libraries of add-ons, you can still get the essential ones such as ad blockers, Twitter utilities and Gmail notifiers.

Opera deserves a special mention here because it’s more than just a browser. It has integrated email, newsgroups and IRC chat, the Opera Unite file server, Opera Turbo to improve performance on crappy mobile connections, and Sidebar-style widgets for games, web applications and utilities.

The best browser for Windows 7

Safari’s the first to fall here: it just looks odd on Windows, and doesn’t offer anything over its rivals. IE9 and Opera are both very nice to use on Windows 7 and make good use of taskbar pinning and jump lists, but Firefox has the edge in both speed and expandability and it’s our pick here.

Opera on windows 7

UNEXPECTED?: Opera’s a joy to use and worth considering if you like the idea of widgets, integrated email and file sharing

The best browser for Windows Vista

IE9 flies on Vista – it hammered through Sunspider in 193.7ms – but Firefox is faster still, scoring 192.2ms in the same benchmarks. Safari ran through the benchmarks in 224.4ms, Chrome 246.6ms, and Opera in 251.2ms. Firefox isn’t just the speediest browser on Vista, but the most expandable too.

The best browser for Windows XP

Internet Explorer takes an early bath here, because Microsoft doesn’t make IE9 for its ageing OS. That leaves Safari 5.1, Firefox 9, Chrome 16 and Opera 11.6; of the four, Chrome demands the least RAM and hard disk space, making it the best bet for older XP systems. That means Chrome’s the best browser for netbooks too: its more modest hardware requirements are a boon on relatively low-spec machines.

The best browser for OS X

Firefox was massively in the lead on OS X Lion, rocketing through Sunspider in 153.8ms compared to Safari’s 209.2ms, Opera’s 214.7ms and Chrome’s 225.3. However, it’s worth noting that while Safari’s figures look good on paper, they don’t reflect the way it chugged through the benchmarks as if it were wading through treacle.

Firefox’s speed is countered by what we think is a faintly horrible interface. If that isn’t your top priority then Firefox is the best browser for Mac users; if it annoys you, then Opera or Chrome is a better bet. While Safari is a perfectly decent browser, its rivals performed better in our tests.

The best browser for privacy

All of the browsers we tested had excellent privacy protection including private browsing and warnings of suspicious web pages, but IE9 is marginally ahead of the pack here: its tracking protection enables you to subscribe to lists that tell specific kinds of websites not to track you, which is potentially more useful than a global “do not track” option.

The best browser for HTML5

All of the main browsers support the important bits of HTML5, but when it comes to full standards support Chrome and Firefox are in the lead by a significant margin. According to the excellent Caniuse.com, Firefox and Chrome score 89% for HTML5 standards support, with Safari at 78%, Opera 74% and IE9 52%. If you add CSS support into the equation the scores are 87% for Firefox and Chrome, 83% for Safari, 75% for Opera and 59% for IE.

HTML5 in ie9

LAGGING BEHIND: All the browsers support key HTML5 features, but IE9 lags behind when it comes to full standards support

The best browser for Android

The stock Android browser is pretty good, but we think Opera Mobile has the edge for smartphones: it’s got a lovely interface, goes like the clappers – we’ve previously described it as “comically fast” on decent kit – and synchronises well with its desktop cousin. On tablets, the standard browser is still our preferred option: while Dolphin for Pad and Firefox are looking pretty nifty, they’re both still in beta.

Opera on android

CACHE KING: Opera Mobile for Android is particularly good on mobile phones. It’s “comically fast” on decent kit

The best browser for iPad

The lack of tabs in Apple’s Safari drove us daft on the original iPad, but now it’s got tabbed browsing and iCloud syncing we think it’s the best browser on the platform, especially on the iPad 2: in our experience it’s faster and more reliable than iCab Mobile, considerably nicer to look at than Atomic Browser, and less likely to dump you back to the home screen for no good reason than non-Apple browsers.

Safari on ipad

NATIVE THE BEST: Tabbed browsing and iCloud synchronisation make Apple’s own Safari the best bet for iPad owners

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Article source: http://www.techradar.com/news/software/applications/best-browser-2012-which-should-you-be-using-932466

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02 Dec 11 Chrome usage almost at that of Firefox


If one in 50 people on the web move from Firefox to Chrome, Google’s browser will unseat Mozilla’s for the No. 2 spot in worldwide usage.

(Credit: Net Applications)

That’s because, according to Net Applications’ November browser usage measurements, Chrome is now within 4 percentage points of Firefox. With a 2 percentage-point increase in one and a 2 percentage-point decrease in the other, Google comes out on top.

Firefox dropped 0.4 percentage point to 22.1 per cent of usage in November, while Chrome gained 0.7 per cent to 18.2 per cent. If that rate was to continue, Chrome would outpace Firefox in March 2012, but fluctuations make such predictions difficult.

Firefox once was the prime challenger to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which for years languished in the doldrums of software development. Now it shares that role with Chrome and, to a lesser degree, Apple’s Safari. Microsoft is in high gear again, though, with IE9 a credible challenger and IE10 shaping up to be a strong competitor when it’s finished in 2012.

The browser market is now fiercely competitive as browser makers use the software to drive their agendas. For Microsoft, it’s about the Metro user interface in Windows 8; for Google, it’s browsing speed and web applications; for Mozilla, it’s a web built on openness and standards; and for Apple, the best mobile devices.

(Credit: Net Applications)

In November, IE’s steady decline stopped, with Microsoft’s browser holding steady at 56.2 per cent of usage. Microsoft has largely written off Windows XP users by requiring Windows Vista or Windows 7 for its current IE9. The company measures its performance by Windows 7 usage, where IE9 passed Chrome and Firefox in usage and now trails only IE8.

The vast majority of browser usage today is from personal computers — 92.2 per cent. But with smartphones and tablets, mobile-device usage is generally increasing. In November, it reached a record 6.7 per cent, according to Net Applications.

The top mobile browser by far is Apple’s Safari, but it plunged 7 percentage points to 55.0 per cent of usage in November. The Android browser had bumped Opera Mini aside in October for the second-place spot, but in November, Opera Mini clawed its way back. Opera’s lightweight browser, which runs on thousands of phones, surged 7 percentage points to 20.1 per cent, while the Android browser dropped 2.2 percentage points to 16.4 per cent.

Opera also offers a full-fledged browser, Opera Mobile, for higher-end smartphones. But that remains relatively rare at 0.4 per cent of mobile browser usage.

(Credit: Net Applications)

Via CNET

Article source: http://www.zdnet.com.au/chrome-usage-almost-at-that-of-firefox-339327207.htm

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01 Dec 11 Chrome usage within striking distance of Firefox


Chrome is within striking distance of Firefox for second place in worldwide browser usage.

Chrome is within striking distance of Firefox for second place in worldwide browser usage.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

If one in 50 people on the Web move from
Firefox to Chrome, Google’s browser will unseat Mozilla’s for the No. 2 spot in worldwide usage.

That’s because, according to Net Applications’ November browser usage measurements, Chrome is now within 4 percentage points of Firefox. With a 2 percentage-point increase in one and a 2 percentage-point decrease in the other, Google comes out on top.

Firefox dropped 0.4 percentage point to 22.1 percent of usage in November, while Chrome gained 0.7 percent to 18.2 percent. If that rate was to continue, Chrome would outpace Firefox in March 2012, but fluctuations make such predictions difficult.

Firefox once was the prime challenger to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which for years languished in the doldrums of software development. Now it shares that role with Chrome and, to a lesser degree, Apple’s
Safari. Microsoft is in high gear again, though, with IE9 a credible challenger and IE10 shaping up to be a strong competitor when it’s finished in 2012.

The browser market is now fiercely competitive as browser makers use the software to drive their agendas. For Microsoft, it’s about the Metro user interface in Windows 8; for Google, it’s browsing speed and Web applications; for Mozilla, it’s a Web built on openness and standards; and for Apple, the best mobile devices.

In the mobile market, Apples Safari dominates, while Opera Mini and the Android browser jockey for second place.

In the mobile market, Apple’s Safari dominates, while Opera Mini and the Android browser jockey for second place.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

In November, IE’s steady decline stopped, with Microsoft’s browser holding steady at 56.2 percent of usage. Microsoft has largely written off Windows XP users by requiring Windows Vista or
Windows 7 for its current IE9. The company measures its performance by Windows 7 usage. there, IE9 passed Chrome and Firefox in usage and now trails only IE8.

The vast majority of browser usage today is from personal computers–92.2 percent. But with smartphones and tablets, mobile-device usage is generally increasing. In November, it reached a record 6.7 percent, according to Net Applications.

The top mobile browser by far is Apple’s Safari, but it plunged 7 percentage points to 55.0 percent of usage in November. The Android browser had bumped Opera Mini aside in October for the second-place spot, but in November, Opera Mini clawed its way back. Opera’s lightweight browser, which runs on thousands of phones, surged 7 percentage points to 20.1 percent, while the Android browser dropped 2.2 percentage points to 16.4 percent.

Opera also offers a full-fledged browser, Opera Mobile, for higher-end smartphones. But that remains relatively rare at 0.4 percent of mobile browser usage.

Mobile browser usage is small but growing.

Mobile browser usage is small but growing.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57334418-264/chrome-usage-within-striking-distance-of-firefox/?part=rss&subj=software&tag=title

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01 Dec 11 Chrome usage within striking distance of Firefox


Chrome is within striking distance of Firefox for second place in worldwide browser usage.

Chrome is within striking distance of Firefox for second place in worldwide browser usage.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

If 1 in 50 people on the Web move from
Firefox to Chrome, Google’s browser will unseat Mozilla’s for the No. 2 spot in worldwide usage.

That’s because, according to Net Applications’ November browser usage measurements, Chrome is now within 4 percentage points of Firefox. With a 2 percentage-point increase in one and a 2-percentage decrease in the other, Google comes out on top.

Firefox dropped 0.4 percentage points to 22.1 percent of usage in November, while Chrome gained 0.7 percent to 18.2 percent. If that rate was to continue, Chrome would outpace Firefox in March 2012, but fluctuations make such predictions difficult.

Firefox once was the prime challenger to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which for years languished in the doldrums of software development. Now it shares that role with Chrome and, to a lesser degree, Apple’s
Safari. Microsoft is in high gear again, though, with IE9 a credible challenger and IE10 shaping up to be a strong competitor when it’s finished in 2012.

The browser market is now fiercely competitive as browser makers use the software to drive their agendas. For Microsoft, it’s about the Metro user interface in Windows 8; for Google, it’s browsing speed and Web applications; for Mozilla, it’s a Web built on openness and standards; and for Apple, the best mobile devices.

In the mobile market, Apples Safari dominates, while Opera Mini and the Android browser jockey for second place.

In the mobile market, Apple’s Safari dominates, while Opera Mini and the Android browser jockey for second place.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

In November, IE’s steady decline stopped, with Microsoft’s browser holding steady at 56.2 percent of usage. Microsoft has largely written off Windows XP users by requiring Windows Vista or
Windows 7 for its current IE9. The company measures its performance by Windows 7 usage. there, IE9 passed Chrome and Firefox in usage and now trails only IE8.

The vast majority of browser usage today is from personal computers–92.2 percent. But with smartphones and tablets, mobile-device usage is generally increasing. In November, it reached a record 6.7 percent, according to Net Applications.

The top mobile browser by far is Apple’s Safari, but it plunged 7 percentage points to 55.0 percent of usage in November. The Android browser had bumped Opera Mini aside in October for the second-place spot, but in November, Opera Mini clawed its way back. Opera’s lightweight browser, which runs on thousands of phones, surged 7 percentage points to 20.1 percent, while the Android browser dropped 2.2 percentage points to 16.4 percent.

Opera also offers a full-fledged browser, Opera Mobile, for higher-end smartphones. But that remains relatively rare at 0.4 percent of mobile browser usage.

Mobile browser usage is small but growing.

Mobile browser usage is small but growing.

(Credit:
Net Applications)

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57334418-264/chrome-usage-within-striking-distance-of-firefox/

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14 Oct 11 Default mobile browsers compared: Safari versus Android


Safari Reader

The Reader view looks very clean, and you can adjust font size for easier reading.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

The new iOS 5 brings a refreshed mobile
Safari, while
Android‘s nameless Browser has been holding steady as the stalwart of Google’s mobile operating system. I looked at two iterations of the latest browsers for iOS and Android: Safari for iOS 5 on the
iPhone 4S, and the Android Browser for Gingerbread 2.3.4 on the Droid Bionic.

Although they come from two companies locked in fierce competition for users, the browsers are both built on the WebKit rendering engine and are remarkably similar.

Safari has some useful features that Apple has ported from the desktop version that Android’s browser lacks. First is the Reading List feature, a convenient tool for marking pages and sites to be read later. If you tap the Action button (the box with an arrow coming out of it at the bottom of the browser,) the second option is to add it to your Reading List.

Once added, you can access it later by tapping the Bookmark button. The Reading List is the first option. That’s no accident: Reading List is simply Bookmarks with a better public relations budget. You can also sync the feature with other iOS devices via iCloud.

Reader is another desktop Safari feature that’s made its way over to mobile in iOS 5. It streamlines articles, cutting out extraneous ads and page-jumps so you can easily scroll through the story without getting distracted.

The Android browser hasn’t undergone many changes recently. Could Ice Cream Sandwich serve up a major refresh?

(Credit:
Screenshot by Nicole Cozma)

Safari’s in-page text copy is also extremely slick. Long-tap on the screen, and a magnifying glass appears to make single-word reading and selection easier. Release to get handles for dragging the highlighted area beyond a single word, or for searching for a definition of that word. It may sound awkward, but it’s clever and intuitive.

Safari also has a recognizable name. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Android to eventually brand its Browser as Chrome, since they’re both built on WebKit, but Google has said that’s not going to happen in the near future. This is a miscalculation on Google’s part. With Chrome growth still stratospheric more than three years after it debuted, the Android browser could well benefit from some of Chrome’s better features, such as sync and add-ons.

As an aside, this has led to an interesting problem for Android. There are some serious platform restrictions on iOS that affect your ability to look beyond the default browser. Apple severely restricts your ability to change the default app for core services, so third-party browsers must be built on the same WebKit engine that powers Safari, and those browsers aren’t allowed to take over link launching from text messages or other apps. If that happened on Windows, the practices would be quickly labeled anti-competitive and immolated with lawsuits and fire-breathing attorneys.

So on Android, the competition has far outstripped the default browser. Firefox for Android, with its syncing, tabs, and add-on gallery, does an impressive job of replicating the desktop experience in the mobile space. Dolphin does, too, and supports Flash and gestures as well. Opera Mobile offers a similar feature set, plus page compression to accelerate page-load times. And those are just three off the top of my head. Next week’s Ice Cream Sandwich announcement could change things quickly for Android, but right now the default browser looks anemic against the home turf competition.

Against Safari, though, it holds up well. It doesn’t have analogs for Reader or Reading List, but it does other things better. Safari doesn’t have location bar searching enabled, which means that it’s got a secondary search box crammed into the top of the interface. The Android browser uses the extra space for a dedicated Share button and one-tap Bookmark button, things that Safari lacks.

Android doesn’t offer an instant, single-word definition search or on-board dictionary as a second option to copying highlighted text. It does let you instantly share the text, though, through the standard Android “share” interface. The Android browser also comes with a download manager, it lets you download a page to your SD card for offline reading and lets you view page info such as the full page name and full URL.

In simplest terms, the browsers are a reflection of the operating systems themselves. The enhanced reading options for Safari reflect iOS’s “it-just-works” populist approach, while the best of Android’s browser set it apart with a bit more in-depth control.

(Credit:
Google)

There used to be two major differences when comparing the default versions of the browsers on tablets, but Safari on the iPad has just gotten tabbed browsing with iOS 5. Still, one important feature exists on the default Android browser: Incognito mode. And yes, it’s actually called Incognito, which is the first indication we’ve had that Google is considering re-branding the Android browser as Chrome. Still, there’s not one single feature that makes one of these browsers impressively better than the other because where one slacks off, the other picks up.

When it comes to performance, one major recent study showed that the Android 2.3.0 browser was shockingly better on almost all counts than the iOS 4.3 Safari. In testing the browsers and phone models for this story, they were impressively similar in page load times. In informal tests, Android averaged about two to three seconds faster on some sites, like Apple.com, YouTube.com, and NYTimes.com, but on other sites such as Download.com and Amazon.com, they averaged nearly the same render time. Of course, performance depends heavily on hardware, so if you’ve got an older Android phone running the latest OS, or an iPhone 4 running iOS 5, you’re not as likely to see similar results.

The bottom line is while the browsing experiences remain different, that has more to do with their host operating systems, and less to do with the browsers themselves.

Article source: http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-20120243-12/default-mobile-browsers-compared-safari-versus-android/

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