Jack Wallen takes a look at Hover Browser. Find out why he thinks this might be the future of interacting with links on the Android platform.
If you're looking for a way to view web pages, without getting kicked out of the referring app (such as Gmail), one alternative that I've previously discussed is called Link Bubble. However, if that application doesn't suit your needs, I recommend that you try another, similar app called Hover Browser. This take on the Android web browsing experience is fairly new, and isn't quite as polished (although it pre-dates Link Bubble). It is, however, cheaper (at $0.99). But is Hover Browser worthy of taking the place of your Android device's standard browser?
Here are some of the things Hover Browser can do:
- Open multiple web links into resizable windows
- Chose how much content you want visible
- Keep the referring application open
- Manage browser history and downloads
- Share links
- Built-in User Agent switcher (switch between desktop and mobile)
- Send link to standard browser
There is no free or Lite version of Hover Browser. If you want to play, you'll have to pay. But at $0.99, the cost is almost negligible. Here's how to install the app:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for Hover Browser
- Locate and tap the entry for Hover Browser (by Adnan Begovic)
- Tap the $0.99 button
- Read through the permissions listing
- Tap Accept (if you agree with the permissions listing -- are you sensing a pattern?)
- Tap BUY
- Enter your Google Play password (if required -- and it should be)
- Allow the installation to complete
If you tap Open once the installation is complete, you'll be greeted by a welcome message from the developer. Swipe through that (by swiping to the left) and learn about how the app works. Let's get to know this handy tool together.
You can actually open Hover Browser from the launcher on the home screen (or the app drawer), and either open a URL or configure the app. To get to the settings, open Hover Browser and tap the overflow menu (three vertical dots) in the right corner (Figure A), and tap Settings.
Hover Browser running on a Verizon-branded HTC One Max.
From the Settings window (Figure B), you can configure:
- Window Settings (the Hover Browser window)
- Browser Settings (the web browser component of the application)
You can also view browser bookmarks, history, and clear the history.
The Hover Browser Settings window.
Now, to use Hover Browser, simply open an app (such as Gmail) and tap on a link. When prompted (Figure C), tap Hover Browser, and then tap Just once.
The Complete action dialog window.
Hover browser will open a bubble on the right edge of your screen. When the link has completed downloading, the animation will stop, and the site's favicon will replace the Hover Browser logo (in the bubble). Tap on that bubble to open the Hover Browser app to display the link (Figure D).
Hover Browser viewing techrepublic.com.
With this window open, you can:
- Move it by tapping and dragging the window
- Resize it by tapping and dragging the bottom right corner
- Make it full screen by tapping the full screen button (between the pin and the X in the titlebar)
- Pin it back to your home screen by tapping the pin button
- Share, forward, save as bookmark, or send it to a browser by tapping the overflow menu
- Close it by tapping the X
You can have multiple windows opened or pinned (Figure E).
Multiple Hover Browser windows open or pinned.
If you're looking for a more efficient means of interacting with URLs on your Android device, Hover Browser just might do the trick. It's slick, inexpensive, and works flawlessly. I believe apps like Link Bubble and Hover Browser are giving us a glimpse into the future of Android.
What do you think? Is this how links will be viewed on future iterations of Android? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.