I like to tweak and configure things. It's a very rare occasion that a default setting will do the trick for me. Because of that, I'm always looking for applications that offer more than the usual settings. Web browsers are not immune to my incessant need to tinker. That's why I'm glad I found Boat Browser.
There are a few versions of Boat Browser:
- Boat Browser for Android — standard, free version
- Boat Browser for Tablet — HD version for tablets
- Boat Browser Mini — stripped-down, faster version
- Boat Brower Pro License Key — unleashes more features
Here are some of the features you'll find in the standard versions:
- Personalized themes
- Powerful bookmarks management
- Side toolbar
- Speed dial
- Floating tab
- Video; Flash video; YouTube video support (Note: In Android 4.4, flash doesn't work on some devices)
- Voice command and voice search
- Support app to SD function
- Support cache to SD function
- Easy file downloading
- User agent switching
- Pinch to zoom support
- Easy copy/paste
If you purchase the Pro License key for $3.09 (USD), you get these additional features:
- Floating tab feature
- Removes the banner ads in the bookmark page and browser exit
- Delete all speed dial icons
- Folders for speed dial icons
- Firefox bookmark sync support
- Support for up to 32 tabs
Let's install and use this tweak-able browser.
We'll install the standard version on a Verizon-branded HTC One Max. Once you've used it and determine that it suits your needs, you can upgrade to the Pro License. I've installed this and ran Malwarebytes to ensure the browser is not malware. It is safe. Follow these steps to install Boat Browser:
- Open the Google Play Store on your device
- Search for Boat Browser
- Tap the entry for Boat Browser (by Boat Browser Communication)
- Tap Install
- Read through the permissions
- If you agree with the permissions, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once the installation is complete, locate and tap the launcher on either the home screen or within the application drawer.
One of the first things you'll want to do is visit the configuration options. To get to the Settings pages, tap on the menu button on the Boat Browser main page (Figure A), and tap Settings.
The Boat Browser main page.
The Settings window (Figure B) is one of the features that immediately sets Boat apart from other browsers.
The Boat Browser Settings window.
From this page, you can easily set (or unset) Boat as the default browser, check for upgrades, reset to default settings, and configure the browser.
Open the Browser settings page (Figure C), and go through these options.
Browser settings options.
You can set your download directory, enable (and create) gestures, turn on SD card caching, and much more. One very nice feature is the ability to set the volume key action to one of the following:
- Switch tabs
- Scroll up or down
- Zoom page
Personally, I like to use the volume key to switch between tabs. Another outstanding feature is the ability to move the download directory. This is especially handy if your Android device has an SD card. There's no reason to leave the download directory on internal memory. A lot of users will download various files and forget about them, which can quickly fill up a device. To change the download directory, do the following:
- Open the Boat Browser settings
- Tap Browser settings
- Tap Set download dir
- Tap the currently set location
- Navigate to the new location (Figure D)
- Tap the new location
- Tap OK
Relocating the download directory for Boat Browser.
Another really handy feature is the ability to switch between Day and Night modes. The difference between the two is quite obvious (Figure E) and makes it easy to read the browser in dim or low (or no) lighting, without strain or bothering those around you.
Day and Night are night and day apart.
As far as usage is concerned, Boat is as solid an entry as any other web browser you'll find for Android. What sets it apart is the configuration options and easy-to-use features. Give Boat a try, and see if it doesn't sail off as your default Android browser.
Is there a mobile web browser feature missing in the current crop of apps? If so, what would make your web browser perfect? Share your opinion 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 jackwallen.com.