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One of the pillars of Android is its Intent message-passing feature, a mechanism that allows applications to make use of each other.
From a user's perspective, it means that it is possible to set a default application for an activity, such as opening a web page, and have the ability to change to an alternative application whenever they so wish.
This is why there are so many browser alternatives available for the platform.
For some time, I've been using an Android device for daily use on both Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich versions — and have been on the hunt for the perfect browser, or at least a good enough browser. Below is the list of browsers that have crossed my path in that search.
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Screenshots by Chris Duckett/TechRepublic
If the stock Android browser was the best browser going around, then much of this article would be moot.
This browser was sorely lacking for Android's Gingerbread release, but, thankfully, it was updated and given more features in later releases.
When I was using an ICS-based Transformer Prime tablet for the Programming Android on Android piece, the stock browser quickly became my preferred browser — the primary reason being the support for the Prime's keyboard attachment that allowed regular desktop shortcuts to be used.
Much of this comes down to the tuning that each vendor does to its Android implementation.
The picture shown above is HTC's take on the Android browser: it has an added history feature, but is missing the feature to save a page for offline reading that other vendors' Android browsers have.
Giving a recommendation on this app has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. For ICS devices, if the device is an HTC, I wouldn't use it; but if it was the Transformer Prime with the dock attachment, then I would.
If you are still using a Gingerbread device, then I can definitely recommend that you look beyond the stock browser.