Amazon unveils new 'lite' web browser for Android

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Among the clutter of web browsers available on the Play Store (opens in new tab), users will now be able to spot one more option called, ‘Internet: fast, lite and private’. This is Amazon (opens in new tab)’s new offering in the app store, essentially a web browser for Android. And no, there is no iOS (opens in new tab) version yet.

It can be reasonably asserted that the app is aimed at smartphones that don’t necessarily have top of the line connectivity or specifications. Considering that Google (opens in new tab) recently launched a whole series of Go apps (opens in new tab) along the same lines specifically for the Android Go platform, it’s possible that Amazon is just trying to keep up with the competition. 

Currently, the app is only available in India, which is perhaps why the launch of the app was so hush-hush. It’s apparently been in the Play Store since March but had gone unnoticed among the sheer volume of other options available to users. 

There’s nothing India specific about the app as such, apart from the fact that it’s built to accommodate slower net speeds. There aren’t any Indian languages that have been integrated and quite honestly, it doesn’t feel that different to use as compared to its counterparts.

At the time of writing this article, the app has some 100 downloads, which is hardly groundbreaking. It’s probably due to the fact that the app is only compatible with select smartphones. Exceptions like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (opens in new tab), Oppo A83 and Honor 9 Lite (opens in new tab) aren’t congruous.

Internet interface

Internet interface

Amazon Internet’s features

Amazon claims that the web browser is ‘lighter than the competition’ in the app’s description in the store. The download size of the apk is 2.1MB, which is considerably smaller than Firefox (opens in new tab), Google Chrome (opens in new tab), and Opera (opens in new tab). Chrome is the biggest of the three at 61MB. Even the Opera Mini web browser for Android takes up 7.7MB of space.

The app also lays emphasis on the privacy aspect, which is no wonder with the Cambridge Analytica (opens in new tab) scandal still fresh on everyone’s minds. True to its word, the app doesn’t ask for any permissions when you launch it.

As an additional layer of privacy, the app also has the option of private tabs, which are basically akin to the incognito mode in Chrome. Considering that the app isn’t recording your data, private tabs will allow you hide your browsing history from your phone as well. 

The overall layout of the app is similar to the UC browser, though it’s definitely less cluttered. The default page shows icons to access Amazon, Cricbuzz, Facebook (opens in new tab), BookMyShow, India Times, Intex (opens in new tab), MakeMyTrip, and Twitter (opens in new tab)

Default search engine option

Default search engine option

Within the app, users have the option to choose between Google and Bing as their default search engines. It's always nice to have the option to choose. 

This isn’t the only ‘lite’ app that Amazon has launched. Apparently, the lite version of Kindle (opens in new tab) was also launched around the same time. It shrinks the original Kindle app from 49MB down to a 2MB interface. 

Speaking of Kindle, aside from Internet web browser, Amazon has the Silk web browser, which runs on the company's Android based Fire devices (opens in new tab). But, Silk isn't available through the Play Store. 

The long-term game plan of why these apps are being launched is unclear. But on speculation, it seems as though Amazon is creating its own ecosystem that can eventually be the default for its consumer products.

Prabhjote Gill is the Senior Journalist at Business Insider India. She covering everything space, tech and defence at Business Insider India. She is also in-charge of allocating stories to junior writers.