many browsers, one web

A few months ago I joined Samsung to work in a team that would advocate the web platform and advance the web as a whole. Learning from the inner workings of a browser vendor and the open teachings of the community, some of the most interesting questions that I have faced are regarding the need for another browser. These questions are simple and complex at the same time, since they can be viewed from different angles, and they tend to generate debate among the purists and fans alike. Let’s discuss about the existence of Samsung Internet.

wait… Samsung has a web browser?

Short answer is “yes”. The web is very important for Samsung. That’s why the company has decided to not only develop its own browser but also to actively contribute to the web’s development.

The web is very important for Samsung

Which one is it?

The browser is called *drum roll*… “Samsung Internet”. It is the purple icon labeled “Internet” found on Samsung mobile devices (phones and tablets). Its current version is 4.0 (although there’s a 5.0 beta in the wild you might be interested in checking out).

Samsung Internet logo

Mmmm… and why another browser?

I would argue that the correct question is “why not?”, no? Lets rewind a bit. Samsung Internet is based in Chromium. Actually, it’s not only based in Chromium but Samsung actively contributes to Chromium’s development. It’s actually one of its largest contributors after Google. Chromium is thought of as a secure, fast and efficient foundation for browsers. There are several browsers that are based of this open source project. Each one of these implementations of Chromium has a different vision of how the user experience should be. With this in mind, for Samsung, there are many reasons that justify having its own browser:

  1. It allows to offer our users a better experience: tailored to the device and standards-compliant. If we think about combining certain unique features found in devices with the web browsing experience, we end up with being able to log into websites using biometric technology (iris scanning or fingerprints). On the standards side, we not only implement and promote them, we significantly contribute to them (for example, Service Workers, WebVR, …). Samsung actively contributes to Chromium’s development and to standards, and this allows us to provide a better experience.
  2. We make hardware: Samsung manufactures its own devices, and this gives us the possibility to incorporate functionality of sensors found in these devices in the browser faster. We mentioned earlier biometric sign-in to websites as an example. Other cases include continuous browsing experiences with VR by inserting our device into a Gear VR and using other input devices to interact with the browser itself.
  3. We take privacy very seriously: Samsung Internet has its own view on privacy. Unlike other browsers, Samsung Internet does not call home or collects usage reports. It also enables a Secret Mode behind biometric authentication and allows to install content blockers (through the Content Blocking API). Yeah, privacy is a brand promise of our browser.
  4. Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Samsung Internet is one of the browsers leading the development of PWAs. The browser supports the ‘installation’ of an application or web site directly on the home screen, and provides the necessary infrastructure for it to work offline. Our own Jungkee Song sits in the editorial board of the Service Workers specification, a specification that is key to enabling PWAs.
  5. Virtual Reality on the web: It’s not a secret that we like VR. With an estimated 2.3 million Gear VR headsets worldwide, one of the first VR consumer web browsers on the market and tight integration between the browser and the hardware (Gear VR), it’s safe to say we love VR. So much that we encourage and participate in its development on the web. We want to help democratize Virtual Reality by nurturing it on the most democratic medium that exists: the web.
Only through innovation and competition we manage to keep a healthy and strong web ecosystem.

Cool story bro, but why should I develop for it?

You’re not developing for it. You’re developing for the web… we’ve got your back, you know the browser has support for current standards. So, apart from the fact that you’re taking advantage from all the magic of modern web standards that allow you to create Progressive Web Apps and WebVR experiences, I’ll throw in some additional interesting bits:

Samsung Internet browser market share is increasing fast in the Netherlands and Germany. It also holds third place in market share in Europe and North America.

“Samsung Browser is now the third most popular mobile browser in the largest markets including Germany (24.6%), South Korea (18.2%), and UK (16.5%).” — DeviceAtlas
So, shouldn’t there be more browsers?

So, shouldn’t there be more browsers? Only through innovation and competition we manage to keep a healthy and strong web ecosystem. I came to realize there is space for other browsers; I came to realize there is space for Samsung Internet and the innovation it brings to the web.

there is space for Samsung Internet and the innovation it brings to the web