Android users have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to web browsers. Chrome, Dolphin, Opera, and Firefox all have their pros and cons, not to mention their fans. It’s been a while since we had a promising newcomer hit the mobile browser space, but the Go Launcher Dev Team (makers of the customization-friendly GO Launcher and Next Launcher 3D, among many others) are giving it a shot. Next Browser is a free download, available now for devices running Android 2.2 and higher.
Next Browser takes bits and pieces from all the major Android browsers and mishmashes them together. The home screen is split between three panels: a self-populating selection of your most visited sites, a la Chrome, an Opera-ish Speed Dial page complete with bookmarks and a search bar, and Next View, a set of contextual RSS buttons that works like a simpler version of Flipboard. Start typing in the URL bar, and a handful of relevant auto-complete terms will pop up, easily seen and separated in some high-contrast bubbles. Tabs can be accessed with a quick swipe to the right, extensions to the left (like Dolphin), though at the moment there appears to be only three: Evernote, Facebook, and Pocket.
The Settings menu is a bit sparse when compared to Dolphin, but much, much more customizable than Chrome. Right away you have options of changing the default search engine from Google to Bing, Yahoo, or Baidu, and you can swap between mobile, desktop, or iOS user agents on the fly. There’s an integrated download manager with a file path setting (yes!) and bookmark syncing tied to your Google account. Unfortunately, bookmarks can’t be imported from Chrome, only the default Android browser. A surprisingly rich Voice Search option is enabled whenever you press a hard or soft Search button, with quick links to News, Video, and Image queries – a nice touch.
Next is missing a few of the features that would make me consider it as a “daily driver,” namely an option for full-screen browsing and desktop integration. But even at this early stage, the browser is fast, stable, and has enough polish that it should win quite a few users. There are no in-app purchases or premium versions at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see those pop up somewhere down the line. With the GO Dev Team’s reputation for ceaseless improvement, Next Browser is one to keep your eye on.
VIA: Android Police