We recently covered how Samsung’s approach to software used to be considered convoluted, confusing and resulted in a less than ideal situation for customers. Samsung itself has hinted that it will improve how competitive its products and services are in the 2015 Q4 results, but did not include any of the detail that we were hoping for. Instead, we appear set to see Samsung reinvent the user interface and applications present on a device – we’ll continue to see the TouchWiz user interface on Samsung Galaxy Android devices, plus Samsung’s own applications competing with the Google equivalents. One of these competing applications is the web browser, while many other smartphone manufacturers prefer to include Google Chrome as their browser. Samsung is apparently preparing an update to their own web browser, bringing it to the fourth generation, in an attempt to lure customers into using the Samsung browser instead of Google Chrome.
The fourth generation browser has been improved across the board and now boasts a higher compatibility with the world wide web standards than most other mobile browsers. It now also includes the ability to use ad-blocker plugins, but Samsung have not included their own technology and instead are leaving this up to third parties. There’s a privacy mode, which prevents the device from caching pages, cookies, passwords and histories when enabled. Furthermore, the browser will include access to the push notification parts of Android, meaning the browser can be used to receive updates (as Google’s Chrome browser already does). This particular piece of functionality uses the Service Worker API, which also improves web application performance when in areas of slow, poor or intermittent connectivity of coverage. Samsung are integrating (presumably Samsung Galaxy only) sensor technology into the browser, such as the finger print scanner and other biometric sensors. These improvements, Samsung hopes, will be enough to prevent users from simply ticking “set as default” the first time he or she accesses a web site link from a brand new Galaxy S device and then tapping on the Google Chrome browser.
Samsung have said that their new browser concentrates on three key features: privacy, developers and virtual reality. Virtual reality is rapidly becoming a new battleground for the world’s mobile technology manufacturers and here, Samsung are setting up their browser to work with their Gear VR device. The idea here is that the Gear VR will be another platform for the browser and the source notes that this means the virtual reality device will provide an “immersive internet experience” and allow “seamless connectivity and sharing of user’s information.”
Unfortunately, it’s not clear if the Samsung browser will work on non-Samsung hardware. One of the reasons why the Google Chrome browser has quickly become popular is because it is included onto most new devices and runs on almost every Android device from version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and later (although the later versions require Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and higher). Another reason is because it is available for other platforms and because it makes it easy to share web pages and bookmarks between devices. It’s possible that many customers won’t care too much for a few points difference in the world wide web compatibility score tests. Let’s hope Samsung’s focus on developers will open up the browser to other devices.