Puffin is an innovative browser for Android and iOS

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I prefer not to browse the Internet on mobile devices as I dislike the small screen and the fiddly controls. Sometimes, I have to use a browser, and while I use Chrome or Firefox for that most of the time, I like to try other mobile browsers as well just to see what they have to offer.

Phone Arena released a browser comparison today and Puffin browser was without doubt the major surprise as far as results are concerned.

It scored best in all benchmarks the author ran, and managed to beat all other browsers with incredible easy and huge gap to second placed browsers.

It did not work quite as well in real loading tests, but it still managed to beat all others in one, and be placed second in the other.

You are probably wondering how the browser does it. The answer may surprise you. Instead of relying on fast engines that are run on the device, it uses the cloud for the heavy-lifting.

This not only ensures that contents get rendered faster, it also reduces the load of the device while that happens.

Puffin offers other advantages that may be of interest to some users. For one, it supports Adobe Flash on all versions of Android. This too is "over the cloud" support but the effect is the same. You can play Flash games, videos and other contents on your device.

puffin browser puffin options

In addition to basic Flash controls, Puffin supports specialized controls such as full screen video, a virtual gamepad to make gaming easier,and a trackpad to simulate mouse operations on desktop devices.

You can make modifications to Puffin's Flash support, for instance to load Flash contents only on demand, or even never if you do not want to make use of it.

The settings provide you with access to other customizations as well. You can enable do not track, clear browsing data, set a download folder for all downloads that is either on the device or in the cloud -- Dropbox is supported -- change the browser's homepage, or enable tab synchronization with Chrome.

Puffin supports add-ons, but the selection is mediocre when you compare it to Firefox or Chrome.

Caveats

The browser has a few caveats. First, its memory consumption is not the best. It is not the worst either, as Chrome and Firefox both are worse in this regard, but it is far from ideal.

You may also notice that scrolling lags when the browser loads sites. This stops once a site is fully loaded, but until that happens, you may experience lag when scrolling.

There are also certain limitations in regards to Flash. If you use the free version of Puffin, then Flash access is only granted from 9 am to 4 pm while it is blocked otherwise.

You can purchase the premium version for about $1.50 per year to get the full Flash experience.

Puffin data centers are located in the US, and while people from the US can access all local contents, people from outside the US may not. This means that contents such as Pandora or Hulu may not be available if you use Puffin and are located outside the US.

Some users may have privacy concerns as page contents do get rendered on a remote server. The developers state that all traffic is encrypted, but that does not really resolve the underlying issue that the contents are available on remote servers for a short period of time.

The recommendation is the same that I have for Opera Turbo, Road Map, Opera Max and all other services that redirect traffic through a third-party server: do not use it for important things.

Closing Words

Moving the page rendering from the browser to the cloud can be highly beneficial to users of low-performance devices. Instead of having to wait a long time until a page is rendered completely, the rendering itself may be completed a lot faster as most of the heavy lifting is handled in the cloud.

If the privacy implications do not bother you, you may want to give it a try.

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Responses to Puffin is an innovative browser for Android and iOS

  1. Gregg DesElms February 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    MARTIN WROTE: I prefer not to browse the Internet on mobile devices as I dislike the small screen and the fiddly controls.

    MY RESPONSE: Agreed; though once you pop for a large-screened phablet like one of the Samsung Galaxy Note devices, that preference can... well... I don't know if it'll all-the-way change, but it'll at least be modified a little... and in a big hurry. That said, yes, even on a phablet, the experience is just different enough from a Windows laptop/desktop browser (or even a full-sized tablet) experience that it can be downright irritating. So, yes... understood.

    I always find articles about new Android browsers -- expecially yours, to be candid -- interesting. However, in the end, Google -- despite Chrome's, yes, being top-heavy and less-than-ideal in other ways -- nevertheless kinda' has everyone right where it wants us because, if nothing else, of the interoperability of the phone's/tablet's browser with the Windows laptop's/desktop's browser. Having created the very OS, and then just giving it away, is paying-off for Google in a huge way.

    It's sorta' like what happens to Windows laptop/desktop users who've always been loyal to Internet Explorer (IE), but who choose Android as their phone (and/or especially their tablet, if they have one in addition to their phone) platform. Once you dig deeply enough into that whole Android world, you begin to realize that to best leverage interconnectability/interoperability between the Android phone/tablet and the Windows laptop/desktop, one needs to be using either Chrome, or one of the Chromium-based Chrome look-alike/act-alikes like IRON or COMODO DRAGON. This is especially true of one uses Google's CloudPrint capability.

    Before I got my first Android smartphone, I simply couldn't have been more loyal to IE (and to show how intransigently stupid is Microsoft, the first thing it should have done once it became obvious that Android was something with which to be reckoned, was release an Android version of IE... but NOOOOOO... that would be asking too much; but now I digress... sorry). But, you know, it just didn't take me long to realize that if I really wanted the kind of overall device interoperability that I envisioned, I needed to move over to Chrome (or, more specifically, because I wanted a truly portable version of it, to the Chromium-based look- and act-alike IRON PORTABLE browser; after I first tried and hated COMODO DRAGON, though even that is better now). And it's weird how it dawns on you, too: it doesn't happen all at once; it's just sort of this thing you begin to realize.

    And THEN, once THAT happens, you suddenly look back on how you let Microsoft manipulate you, and use IE to make you upgrade OS versions and stuff; and how you settled for sub-standard browser helper objects that even the worst Chrome extensions can out-perform, for so long, and you feel embarrassed.

    And remember that all of what I just described is even with just using the stock (in my case Samsung/AT&T) browser that comes with the Android phone. Install the Android version of Chrome onto the phone on top of all that, and experience even only the simple bookmark sharing, just to mention one cool thing about it...

    ...and next thing you know, you're not really even that interested in looking at other Android browsers, even when one of them turns out to be kinda' good. Life, after all, is short; and the older you get, the more the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" starts meaning in your life. [grin]

    Anyway, just doin' a stream of consciousness thing, here, I guess. Don't mind me.

    Nice article, as usual.

    __________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  2. ilev February 11, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    Chrome also redirects traffic through a third-party servers, it's own, in order to compress the data.

    All 3rd party iOS browsers run Safari (unless you jailbreak the device).

    • Ricky February 12, 2014 at 8:57 am #

      Maybe do you research before posting something dumb. 3rd party iOS browsers don't run "Safari", they use the engine Webkit, which is open source. Also, some browsers use their own developed engine instead of Webkit.

  3. james braselton February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    hi there yeah there now 2 browsers useing tile like windows 8 puffin browser on ios android and now smart browser also has same interphase who sayed that tiles windows 8 live tiles apps wont sell live tiles are more popular then regular apps

  4. Elben February 12, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    You don't have to download this browser just because of its flash functionality. Just download and install the apk file from "http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/archived-flash-player-versions.html" and flash will work on firefox and Dolphin browsers. It wont work on chrome though.

    It is not officially supported anymore but the latest version still works perfectly.

  5. Rebad February 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    It's been about four months since I did the research on the big-name security suites for 'droid (and purchased Bitdefender Mobile Security for my Nexus 7 2013). One thing that stood out was that whatever anti-whatever feature was offered for Web browsing, support was for the Android browser and Chrome only.

  6. Dan February 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    I don't believe you can block ads in this type of browser, just like you can't with compression-enabled Chrome or Opera browser. This alone makes it a deal breaker for me, since having a flash-enabled browser without adblocking is just a nightmare (I have Puffin on ios)

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