Amazon has silently launched a lightweight Android web browser app for India. The web browser has a rather generic name, “Internet: fast, lite and private” and can be downloaded from Google Play. As vanilla and boring, that name might sound there is a possibility that it was chosen deliberately to be that way. This might be done so to enable the browser to show up even when people type in generic search terms when they are looking to download a browser from the Google Play Store.
Techcrunch which covered the story first reports that the app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads (the exact numbers unknown but the Play Store mentions that the app has over 100+ downloads). Like most lightweight apps, the new browser is a small download — it’s less than 2 MB in size. That’s much smaller than other browsers, including Chrome (21MB), Edge (54.5MB), Firefox (19.9MB) and Opera (14.7MB). I attempted to download the browser to give it a spin but none of my Android devices were compatible with the browser. This might indicate that the browser only has only seen a limited release on either a specific or a small subset of devices.
Apart from the ‘fast’ and ‘lite’ descriptors in its name the browser also claims to be ‘private’. The app’s Google Play description mentions it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This might indicate that “Internet” is looking to mirror some of the privacy-focused features of the recent versions of Mozilla’s Firefox.
Lightweight mobile apps
Last month, Amazon had launched the Kindle Lite app for Android users in India. The ebook reading app takes up only 2MB space on phones and can be used on 2G/3G networks also.
Facebook also offers “lite” versions of its apps, like Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, to reach users with limited connectivity and access to data. Facebook Lite launched in June 2015, and by March 2016, Facebook announced that the app had attracted more than 100 million monthly active users.
Google has released a full suite of lightweight mobile apps under the “Go” branding to complement it’s Android Go devices which are targeted at emerging markets with limited data connectivity. 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. Curiously enough there is no separate Chrome Go on offer from Google even though that seems like the most obvious thing to do. This is because Google claims that Chrome already offers data saving features built into the browser.