Not satisfied with the browsing experience on your Android tablet or smartphone? Mercury Browser could help fix that.
Google’s Play Store lists several excellent browsers for devices running on Android. If you’re looking to install one, chances are that you’re leaning toward choices like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, especially if you’re accustomed to their desktop versions. Other popular choices such as Dolphin Browser and UC Browser are probably on your list too, as they were on mine when I bought a Samsung tablet last year.
In search of a comfortable Web experience, I tried various Android browsers and then some. But, browsing just did not feel easy and intuitive on the 7-inch device as it did on my laptop, and not because of the smaller screen either.
That changed when I found Mercury Browser, a fast and secure app that has been introduced for Android after the success of its iOS version. Here’s an in-depth look at this new player in the Android market.
At First Glance
When you open Mercury Browser, you’re greeted by a grid-based Speed Dial section as seen in most browsers.
What I like best about this browser is its menu section, which sits in a discreet toolbar at the bottom of the window and stays out of your way, unlike that of the usual browsers.
I could easily explore nearly all of the features using just 3-4 toolbar buttons. With this clever arrangement, the browser appears simple on the surface, while hiding plenty of interesting options for those who like their apps feature rich. As the toolbar buttons lead to popup panels that appear and disappear with a tap, the screen remains conveniently free from clutter.
Diving Into The Important Stuff
Mercury Browser is quite customizable . Take your pick from as many as 12 search engines including Google, DuckDuckGo (reviewed here), Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay, Reddit, and YouTube.
Tapping on the numbered icon in the toolbar reveals a slide-out panel from where you can open and close tabs. Tasks like managing downloaded files, switching to private mode, and sharing Web pages are all pretty straightforward. If you’re security conscious, you’ll be glad to know that you can protect the browser with a pass code.
You’ll have no trouble navigating the bookmarks section. If you use Chrome or Firefox on your PC, you can choose to keep its data synced with your mobile device by installing the corresponding Mercury Connect desktop extension.
I could quickly access my Firefox bookmarks on the tab by signing up for Sync using my email address. Registering with your Facebook or Google account is also available as an option.
Tweak, Tweak, And Tweak Some More
Make the screen visually comfortable by adjusting the brightness and font size to your liking. You can even switch between day and night modes, and lock screen orientation as required.
Take full advantage of the Settings screen, which lets you customize various features. This is the screen from where you can set up auto-filling for forms, import/export bookmarks, change privacy and gesture settings, add plugins, etc.
Extend the browser’s functionality by activating one or more plugins. Some of the add-ons include options for translation, blocking ads, scanning QR codes, and transferring files over WiFi.
I found the Reader plugin to be particularly useful, because it strips away unnecessary elements from a Web page and presents content in a distraction-free format, much like Evernote Clearly does.
What Could Have Been Better
As the Android version of the browser was released as recently as October 2013, it’s understandable that it feels a little rough around the edges. For now, it lacks Flash support and some of the personalization features that are available in its iOS avatar.
The browser crashed on a couple of occasions, but that did nothing to detract from its overall look and feel. It has been my default browser for a few weeks now, and I have no intention of switching to a different one any time soon.
Mercury Browser provides the right mix of features and simplicity, which can be just what you need for a comfortable browsing experience. It’s easy on the eyes as well. Sure, it may not be as advanced as its iOS relative is said to be. You might even end up going back to your regular browser. But, in my experience, Mercury Browser is a fairly good app that has the capability to impress you if you let it. How about giving it a shot?
Have you tried Mercury Browser? In your opinion, how does it fare over its more-talked-about counterparts?