Mobility

xScope Browser Pro: Full-featured, fast, one-handed browsing

Take a look at how to install and configure xScope Browser Pro, an inexpensive but powerful app for your Android mobile device.

The world of business moves at a lightning-quick pace. Because of this, the tools you use need to be equally as fast. With mobile browsers, most apps suffer from either speed issues or cumbersome interfaces. However, xScope Browser Pro takes a completely different approach to navigating between sites and interacting with the browser.

Using the swipe capabilities of the touch screen, xScope allows you to navigate backwards and forwards by simply swiping your Android smartphone screen to the left or right. But the navigation isn't the only exciting feature with xScope. This mobile browser offers:

  • Zoom with one or two fingers
  • Switch tabs with one finger
  • Close tab with one or two fingers
  • Darken your page
  • Revolutionary ad-blocking feature
  • Rename, zip, unzip, delete, copy, paste, and share files and create new folder
  • Search and copy text
  • Import Google bookmarks
  • Download most videos (mp4), audios (mp3), and documents (pdf, doc, etc.)
  • Upload
  • Flash content (ICS)
  • Full-screen mode

If the gesture settings don't hook you, the ad-blocking feature and rendering speed will. Let's install and take a closer look at this browser.

Installation

The xScope Browser Pro was made for more powerful Android devices (like the Samsung Galaxy S III) that run either Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. You can purchase it from the Google Play Store for $2.99 (USD). For browser power users, this app is definitely worth the price.

To install xScope, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "xscope" (no quotes)
  3. Tap the entry for xScope Browser Pro
  4. Tap the price button
  5. Tap the Buy button
  6. Enter your Google Payments password (if necessary)
  7. Allow the installation to complete
When you first fire up xScope, it will most likely detect that you don't have Flash support installed (Figure A). Figure A

Flash installation on xScope running on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.

If you're running Jelly Bean, do not install the official Flash from Adobe, because it can be buggy. Instead, tap the XDA option. For all other Android versions, tap the Adobe option.

On the next screen (Figure B), tap the Open button to install Flash. Figure B

You might have to go back to your device settings and allow Unknown Sources (in Security).

Usage

You're finally ready to start using xScope. When you initially launch the browser, you'll be asked if you want to include popular bookmarks. After you've accepted or declined that prompt, a single tab will open where you can select a few bookmarks (Figure C). Figure C

Tap the History Sort by drop-down to determine how you want your browser history to be displayed.

The best way to understand how the navigation works with xScope is to do the following:

  1. Open xScope
  2. In the address bar, type techrepublic.com
  3. Tap on one of the articles to view
  4. Once the article opens, swipe the screen to the left (which should take you back to the TechRepublic home page)
  5. Swipe the screen to the right (which should take you back to the article)

Now, let's say you need to zoom in to read the article. With xScope, you can enact a pinch zoom behavior with one finger. Here's how:

  1. Open xScope
  2. In the address bar, type techrepublic.com
  3. Tap on one of the articles to view
  4. Double-tap on the article, but on the second tap keep your finger on the screen
  5. To zoom in, slide your finger down
  6. To zoom out, slide your finger up

Configuration options

Naturally, xScope offers a few nice options. If you tap the menu button (three vertical buttons on the top right) and then tap Settings, you can set the following options:

Event Handling
  • Back button long press
  • Link long press
  • Auto hide notification bar
  • Auto hide UI
  • Swipe nav only from edges
Web Page
  • Text size
  • New page zoom default size
  • Request desktop site
  • Enable GPS/location
  • Enable Flash
Control Bar Buttons
  • Home
  • Toggle
  • Rotation lock
  • Page options
  • Back
  • Forward
Application
  • Show tabs
  • Show control bar
  • Show scroll bars
  • Recover if killed
  • Show clean-up options on exit

From the same page, you can also clear the cache/passwords of the browser, change the home page, and reset the browser default settings.

The xScope app has quickly become my browser of choice on the Android platform. Not only does the one-handed browsing make the app more efficient, but the speed at which pages are rendered is noticeably faster than most other browsers available for the Android platform. Let us know if you have experience with xScope Browser Pro -- and if not, what browser your prefer on your Android device.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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