Miren – A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

miren300   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android PhoneThe stock Android browser isn’t half bad. For one thing, it works. You type in a Web address and it takes you there. For most people, that’s enough. But if you’re reading MakeUseOf, chances are you might be looking for a mobile browser with a bit more oomph.

When people ask me about an alternative Android web browser, I usually point them in the direction of Dolphin Browser or Opera. But there’s now a new kid on the block called Miren. Miren tries to provide “the most intuitive browsing experience” for Android. But does it deliver the goods?

The first thing we’ll look at is, naturally, the first thing you’ll see as you launch Miren:

miren start   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

This is the startup screen. The attention to detail is evident right from the get-go. As I rotated my device to landscape mode to take the screenshot, a clear overlay suddenly appeared with a “lock” icon. This is the orientation lock, and if you’ve ever tried to browse the web while lying on your side in bed, you know how important it is. The button goes away after a couple of seconds, but reappears every time you change the orientation of the device.

Next, let’s have a look at a website:

fullscreen   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

What you see above is my entire screen — I did not crop out the top notification bar. Miren automatically goes to full-screen mode, but if you swipe down, the notification bar becomes visible. Also, you’ll note that even though there’s just one website active, it still gets a tab (and you lose a bit of screen space). This can be changed in the settings.

miren overlay buttons   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

As you touch the screen, two or three transparent (yet large) buttons appear along the bottom. I say “two or three” because the middle one is an RSS feed button, which only appears if Miren has detected an RSS feed. We’ll be coming back to this one. The other two are the Back button and the Full-Screen button. You tap it to toggle the tab bar and address bar.

Another interesting usability touch you can see here is that the active tab does not waste any screen space on a label — it’s just a big, easy-to-hit X. Miren’s creators probably assume you already know what website you’re currently browsing, and that you’ll only need the tab bar if you want to close it. Elegant.

miren non mobile view   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

I switched off MakeUseOf’s mobile theme, and this is how Miren handled the site. Overall loading was snappy, and the layout was flawless. There’s pinch-to-zoom, and it worked quite well (as well as it could, given the flaky multi-touch on my cheap Acer device).

Now let’s look at the menu:

miren css3 and menu   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

I switched tabs for these, so you could also see how Miren handles a bit of CSS 3. That box up there (in my homepage) is implemented using CSS 3 rounded corners, transparency and shadows, and the font is a Google Web font (i.e, implemented in CSS as well). Miren ate up all of this CSS 3 goodness without a hitch, and spat back a great layout.

This screenshot is a 2-in-1, so you can also see the menu. The options are fairly straightforward; we’ll be looking at the Settings menu in a moment, but what intrigued me most at first was the Brightness option:

miren brightness   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

Sadly, it wasn’t all that exciting. The Night Mode toggle did nothing; that’s the only part of the UI that didn’t work right in my entire testing session. I flipped it on and off repeatedly, and it had absolutely no impact. The brightness slider does work, and does what you’d expect it to.

Next, let’s have a quick look at the settings:

miren settings   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

Another lovely usability touch here: Rather than go for a “one size fits all” approach, Miren split settings into two clear tabs. You start off with the Common settings menu, which includes options such as “load images“, “scroll using volume button” and other options most users might want to tweak. The Advanced options menu is for the nerdier folk. Here you can tweak settings such as “don’t always display the tab bar“, etc.

Next, the built-in RSS reader:

miren rss reader   Miren   A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

Yes, that’s right – I said built-in RSS reader. This is one perplexing choice; mobile applications are supposed to be lean, fast and effective. Bolting an entire RSS reader onto Miren must add at least some bloat, and I suspect not many users would find it useful. The reader does not sync up to Google Reader. You can read your feeds only on your mobile devices, and only from within Miren. With applications like Pulse and the official Google Reader client available for Android, I find it difficult to understand why Miren would invest time, effort and storage space in such a feature. Nevertheless, it does seem to work.

Bottom Line

Miren is an extremely capable Android web browser. It’s a serious contender to Dolphin Browser HD, and it’s my new default browser, at least for now. That’s saying something.  Let us know in the comments what you think about it.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

10 Comments -

Djangelic

 its my default android browser :) Love it!

M.S. Smith

This was by far the most talked about browser that I didn’t test in my Android web browser performance post. 

It really is quite good. Quick, pretty nice interface, great homescreen. I will probably stick with Firefox, but this is a close second.

exile09

Hi Eren,

Miren is my default browser since 2 days. Up to then I managed surfing with the built-in (Froyo) and sometimes Opera Mini. But Miren has the nicer interface and feels to be quicker.

Unfortunately there is one thing I don’t get managed: How can I delete some of the Top Sites and and also RSS-Feeds? Even those RSS-Links that I added myself can’t be deleted anymore. Does anyone know a cure for this? I think Miren would get much leaner without this great amount of unnecessary links.

Greetings from Hamburg

Anonymous

Heya!

Re RSS feeds, my advice would be to just not use Miren for those. There’s Pulse and Reader for Android, which are both way, way better than Miren for RSS.

Re top sites: You’re right! It seems like it’s hard-coded into Miren, no way to change them at this point. Too bad really. : 

exile09

Hi Erez,

Sorry for writing your forename wrong in my first post.

Have a nice day!

Anonymous

LOL, no problem! :) Have a great weekend! 

exile09

Hi, you may be right with the rss-reader, but the Miren Browser also has a nice widget, which you can customize with your preferred rss. This widget however does only appear, if you didn’t move the app to the SD-Card. But without being able to delete the pre-installed rss-feeds, the widget is more or less useless.

anonymous

Amazingly faster than stock browser, mozilla and dolphin hd.. Also support flash, not like opera mini.. Great! Now it’s my default browser also..

Boilingpointuk

My fab Android browser.