Web Browser for Android E-ink Devices (Einkbro)

Daniel Kao
Feb 21 · 4 min read

As the CPU power getting stronger and stronger, and screen refresh speed keeps improving for E-Ink devices, more and more people start to use E-Ink devices to browse the internet. It works; however the experience is still not good enough. Existing browsers are not designed for E-Ink devices. There are so many UI elements added for normal Android devices: fancy animations, dimming background when a dialog pops up, etc.

To make a browser suitable for E-Ink devices, two principles should be followed while designing UI interactions:

  • Fewer repaint counts
  • Make repaint area as small as possible

Fewer Repaint Counts

To meet this criteria, the first step is to remove animations. Animation means showing the gradual transition status from one state to another state. It’s very nice to see transitions for normal devices; however, on E-Ink devices, due to its refresh rate, the transition is usually not so smooth. Removing animations not only reduces CPU processing, but also reduces screen refresh counts.

In addition, while browsing web pages, it’s very common to scroll down the screen to read more content. This behavior may produce ghost image residuals on E-Ink devices. It would be better to browse the web just like reading a book, page by page. To fulfill this, specific buttons can be added to handle pageUp/pageDown. If the E-Ink devices has physical volume keys, we can also use them for pageUp/pageDown the web page.

Make Repaint Area as Small as Possible

When the repaint area is large, it’s more likely to create more ghost image on E-Ink device. So, reducing the area means fewer ghost images. An obvious example is showing a dialog. On mobile devices, it’s very common to display dialogs asking user whether they want to do something or not; or showing option dialogs to allow user choose from multiple choices. When dialog pops up, to make user more concentrated on the dialog, system usually dims the rest of the screen. The intention is good, but this causes E-Ink device to flash the whole screen. If the dialog is well designed to achieve the same goal, the dimming effect could be removed.

So far, I haven’t seen a dedicated browser for E-Ink devices yet. I decided to make one, based on a Github project written by Gaukler Faun. FOSS Browser is a lightweight browser that supports many features, including ad blocking, tab control, gesture control, etc. I took some time to refactor the codes and make necessary modifications to make it more appealing for E-Ink devices.

  • Reader mode (remove headers, ads, sidebars, footers, for easier reading)
  • Vertical reading mode (suitable for Chinese and Japanese)
  • Use volume key for pageUp/pageDown.
  • PageUp / pageDown / Back button in tool bar
  • PageUp / pageDown by touching screen
  • tool bar configuration (show/hide actions, or re-arrange order)
  • Desktop mode feature
  • All icons in high contrast colors
  • Refactor most popup dialogs, so that there’s no longer animations.
  • Remove gray mask when dialog pops up.
  • Re-organize menu items so that they can be accessed without switching between tabs.
Action Menu
  • Fix Google Login issues.
  • Modify floating action button design, so that it only outlines the button without blocking underlying content.
  • Add Multi-Window support
  • When adding a new tab, by default, keyboard will popup, so that users can start input the search keyword, or input the url directly.
  • Add Web count in tool bar
tool bar

Feature Introduction Video

EInkBro Browser


專門為 Eink 設備設計的瀏覽器;支援點擊翻頁,加粗字體,直排,閱讀模式等 Eink 特別需要的功能,並且加強介面的圖案文字對比,讓瀏覽體驗更加順暢。


隨著電子書閱讀器的硬體效能愈來愈好,一台在手,除了可以滿足傳統的電子書閱讀功能外,還可以利用它進行一般平板上可以操作的功能,像是安裝 Android App,或是看網頁。但不論是哪一家的電子書閱讀器,內建的瀏覽器充其量只能稱得上堪用,完全沒有針對電子紙的特性量身訂做。為了解決這個問題,我開始開發一款符合自己在電子書閱讀器上使用習慣的瀏覽器,並把過程記錄於此,希望能幫助到其他也有類似需求的人。https://f-droid.org/en/packages/info.plateaukao.einkbro/

Daniel Kao

Written by

Mobile App Developer


隨著電子書閱讀器的硬體效能愈來愈好,一台在手,除了可以滿足傳統的電子書閱讀功能外,還可以利用它進行一般平板上可以操作的功能,像是安裝 Android App,或是看網頁。但不論是哪一家的電子書閱讀器,內建的瀏覽器充其量只能稱得上堪用,完全沒有針對電子紙的特性量身訂做。為了解決這個問題,我開始開發一款符合自己在電子書閱讀器上使用習慣的瀏覽器,並把過程記錄於此,希望能幫助到其他也有類似需求的人。https://f-droid.org/en/packages/info.plateaukao.einkbro/

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