I am constantly searching for applications and tools to help make the tablet experience better and more efficient. Today, I stumbled across a little app called OverSkreen, which is an Android tablet web browser that works a little differently, because it can be resized and minimized.
This is actually a big deal, because before, you had to close your browser to get to another application. Now, you can have a browser open, shrink it, open another application, and either have the smaller browser window over the other application or have it minimized to the notification area.
It's about time someone created such an application! Let's dig in and see just how well this browser works.
The cost of this browser is $2.49 (USD), but I think it's well worth the cost (there's no free or "lite" version). Once you've decided to take the plunge, here are the installation instructions:
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for "overskreen" (no quotes)
- Tap the price button
- Tap Accept & buy
Upon installation, you'll find the OverSkreen launcher either on your home screen or in your app drawer. Tap the launcher to open the newly installed browser.
UsageWhen you first start OverSkreen, a very small window will open (Figure A). You can immediately resize this window by tapping and holding the bottom right corner (and only the bottom right corner) and then dragging the corner to resize. Figure A
Your quick-start links inside the home page will be synced from your other Android devices.
You can also move the OverSkreen browser around on the screen by tapping and holding the titlebar and moving the window where you want it.When you have the browser open, you can open other applications and OverSkreen will remain, as you might expect, "over" the "screen." Figure B shows OverSkreen running on top of Gmail. Figure B
OverSkreen running smoothly on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Even with OverSkreen running over Gmail, the email application is still useable. OverSkreen does, however, get in the way of normal functioning. So, what do you do? There are two options:
- Minimize OverSkreen (using the minimize button, which is the third button from the right, in the upper right-hand corner of the browser)
- Resize OverSkreen such that the app below can be used properly
You can also use OverSkreen in maximized mode so that it fills up the entire screen. Tap the middle button in the upper right corner, and OverSkreen will auto-resize to fill the home screen. You can then tap the same button to change OverSkreen back to its original size. (Note: You can't move OverSkreen when it's maximized. You can, however, minimize the window to the notification tray when it's maximized.)You might think the ability of the browser to "hover" would get in the way when the keyboard is used. Thankfully, the developers thought of that, so when you tap on the address bar (and the keyboard is revealed), the browser moves up to make room for the keyboard (Figure C). Figure C
No matter what size OverSkreen is, the keyboard will overlay and work flawlessly.
OverSkreen also offers many of the features standard to browsers. You'll find:
- Tabbed browsing
- Private browsing mode
- Share pages
- Popup blocking
- Copy URL
- To get to the Home, Back, Forward, and Refresh buttons, tap the oval button to the left of the address bar
- To get to the Settings, tap the three vertical dots to the right of the address bar
- With an OverSkreen window open, your tablet will not be able to go to sleep -- so, when you're done with the browser, make sure to close it
OverSkreen will hopefully herald a new era for Android tablets. With the ability to run apps in windows mode, this could mean true multitasking across the board is only a short time away. It's just a matter of the Android developers taking advantage of this remarkable application.
Have you purchased the OverSkreen web browser for your Android tablet? Share your experience with this app, and other third-party web browsers, in the discussion thread below.
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.