Due to the dominance of Google's Chrome browser, even if you're on Windows you're probably not using Microsoft Edge. You can still enjoy some of its technology, however, since Microsoft has plugged its Windows Defender browser protections into Chrome…
Amazon has quietly launched an Android web browser app for emerging markets, where access to mobile data and high-speed connectivity is more limited. The browser has the rather generic name of: “Internet: fast, lite and private” on Google Play, and promises to be “lighter than the competition.”
The app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower.
It’s only available to users in India for the time being, and is supported on devices running Android 5.0 or higher.
Like most “lite” apps, the new browser is a small download – it’s under 2 MB in size. That’s much smaller than other browsers, including Chrome (21MB), Edge (54.5MB), Firefox (19.9MB), and Opera (14.7MB), according to an analysis by appFigures.
The browser’s Google Play description also notes that it’s “private,” as it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This seems to indicate that it’s meant to be something of a competitor to other private mobile browsers, like Firefox, which blocks website trackers.
The browser additionally supports Private tabs, so you can browse without saving visits to your history, plus other features like tab previews, an automatic fullscreen mode, and integrated news reader of sorts.
In fact, the news reading experience is another telling indication that the browser is only meant for Indian users. The app’s description notes the browser homepage is designed to keep you up-to-date with news, cricket, and entertainment from top sources. Yep, cricket – the most popular sport in India.
And finally, the “feedback” email on Google Play points to Amazon India, which indicates it was built by that team.
Amazon would not be the first to build lightweight mobile apps for emerging markets, such as India.
Facebook already offers “lite” versions of its apps, like Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, to reach users with limited connectivity and access to data. Google has also rolled out a suite of lightweight mobile apps under the “Go” branding. Some of these, like Gmail Go, only come pre-installed on select devices. Others, meanwhile, are available through Google Play for anyone to download, like YouTube Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps, and Google Assistant Go.
It is interesting, however, that Amazon didn’t adopt a similar strategy by offering a “lite” version of its existing Silk browser, but has instead built something new.
Amazon has not yet returned a request for comment about the new app.
Mining cryptocurrencies in the browser isn’t the most efficient way for individuals to get rich, but if you are a developer and you get thousands of machines to mine for you, that equation changes in your favor. For the longest time, Google’s Chrome Web Store allowed for single-purpose mining extensions. That is, developers could publish extensions in the store that clearly stated their purpose and that had no other purpose than to mine.
As it turns out, 90 percent of extensions that mine crypto don’t comply with those rules. The lure of cheap Monero is simply to great for some developers, to they try to smuggle their mining scripts into what look like legitimate extensions. Some of those get detected and removed outright and some actually make it into the store and have to be removed later on. Google is obviously not happy with that, since it’s not a great user experience. Those extensions tend to use a good amount of processing power, after all.
So starting today, Google won’t allow any extension that mines cryptocurrencies into the Chrome Web Store and starting in late June, all of the existing extensions will be removed. It’s worth noting that Google will still allow for blockchain-related extensions that don’t mine.
“The extensions platform provides powerful capabilities that have enabled our developer community to build a vibrant catalog of extensions that help users get the most out of Chrome,” writes James Wagner, Google’s product manager for its extensions platform. “Unfortunately, these same capabilities have attracted malicious software developers who attempt to abuse the platform at the expense of users. This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks.”
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