AMP Browser: desktop browser with AMP support - gHacks Tech News

AMP Browser: desktop browser with AMP support

AMP Browser is a free Chromium-based web web browser for Microsoft Windows devices that may load AMP pages just like mobile browsers can.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open source project that is pushed mostly by Google. The project aims to make websites faster through various means, but most importantly by limiting what AMP powered web pages may use or display in regards to technology.

Speed plays an important role on today's Internet. Websites that are slow loading lose business, and Google and other search engines give faster sites a boost when it comes to visibility. Google plans to roll out a mobile first index in the near future as well which will certainly take speed of sites into account.

The name AMP suggests that it is a technology for mobile devices only. There is no technical reason to block AMP on desktop devices.

AMP Browser

amp browser

AMP Browser is a Chromium-based browser. The current version is based on Chromium 59 Stable.

The AMP Browser is an open source web browser based on Chromium which accelerates web browsing by automatically loading AMP web pages, saves bandwidth by enabling data compression, and respects privacy by blocking ads and tracking scripts.

AMP Browser installs the AMP Browser Extension on start which provides the AMP functionality in the browser. It is not the first to do so; Amplifier AMP/Canonicial Switcher for instance was released back in 2016.

The browser extension adds an icon to the browser's main toolbar that you may use to toggle the functionality. This may be necessary at times, as Accelerated Mobile Pages are very basic when compared to regular web pages. This means that you may not have access to other features that the site provides on the AMP version.

One shortcoming right now is that AMP pages are not highlighted in the Google index. You never know if an AMP page will be loaded or not when you click on a result. The loading works really well, and since AMP powered pages limited what is displayed, load pretty fast usually as well.

You can switch to the original webpage at any time by clicking on the AMP Browser Extension icon in the browser's toolbar.

Verdict

AMP Browser shows that AMP pages can be loaded using desktop browsers as well. It remains to be seen if Google will enable the functionality for desktop Chrome as well.

The browser suffers from one main issue right now. There is no indication whatsoever that highlights whether a link will be loaded as an AMP version or a regular version. That is a problem, as the main use case for using the browser is its AMP support.

Summary
software image
Author Rating
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4.5 based on 9 votes
Software Name
AMP Browser
Operating System
Windows
Software Category
Browser
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Comments

  1. Riri0 said on June 21, 2017 at 2:26 pm
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    Isn’t 59 the current stable version for Chromium? At least thats what is stated here: https://chromium.woolyss.com/ where I get my Chromium from. 61 is still considered dev version, so if they are aiming for mainstream usage, isn’t using the stable version better in this case instead of the dev version? Are stable versions considered outdated now? Should we all throw away all our devices that do not use Windows Insider/Android O all because they are not stable?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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      You are right. It is Chromium Stable, which is the latest release.

  2. Tom Hawack said on June 21, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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    One of the advantages of a desktop PC is that it allows nicely crafted pages. I don’t feel tempted by having a mobile rendered page on my wide screen. Remains speed. I’ll bounce on this. Speed, and all that it implies, is becoming IMO an hysterical quest. Fast, be fast, think fast, write fast, eat fast … ‘mind if I yawn while the coffee is getting ready or should I proceed — quickly, now and fast — to another task in order to not lose time? ‘mind if women carry a child 9 months or do you plan to have this so long process be shortened?

    Pages render most of the time in 1-2 seconds and almost immediately when already cached. What does make a difference is all the craps many sites include, moreover when called from external sources. That’s the main parameter. The rest is fantasy aimed at gaining a few tenths of a second.

    Personally the very concept of this AMP browser is not in the range of my interests nor even in that of my curiosity.
    Am I missing something?

    1. Jerzy said on June 22, 2017 at 2:55 am
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      Open your eyes, look outside the First World – the majority of the world population lives in developing countries or rural areas, where the Internet is very slow and unstable. That is the rationale for the AMP technology and the AMP Browser brings it to the desktop. Every person deserves fast loading content and AMP pages don’t mean badly crafted pages – for example ampproject.org looks great on every resolution and it is powered by AMP. :)

  3. Norm said on June 21, 2017 at 4:33 pm
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    I agree with Tom, but speed is nice. Think of all those people in prison that have to wait all that time for the page to load.

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 21, 2017 at 5:05 pm
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      Speed is nice, speed can be thrilling, I totally agree but as far as I’m concerned and when it applies to the Web it is not my first concern. And speed is becoming an equal value to design when I consider it’s far less important.

      Now, should speed apply to prisoners’ sentence, maybe tomorrows including a cyber inducted time odyssey which would combine the reality of the sentence’s duration with the prisoner’s impression of having spent a half, or a fourth, a tenth! of that duration … that I’d be the first to applause :) Otherwise, life, love, sex require time! OK, OK I’m aware even those who adore their computing device are not at that point closely related (even if some have their device in bed!), but, hey! (“leave ’em kids alone”) let’s enjoy a Website before considering it’s access time as fundamental :)

      Stay in peace!

      1. Gouda said on June 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm
        Reply

        Speed is also performance, which enables more complex tasks to be done. You would never have your desktop computer in the first place if there hadn’t been an obsessive focus on respecting Moore’s law. All complex software have to optimize like there’s no tomorrow or what they get is a a terrible experience, long loading times, stuttering, latency, whatever.

        People who don’t load third party content on the web are almost non existent, and they only do so because of either speed or privacy concerns. (Ad blocking alone doesn’t qualify, still a bunch of stuff loaded)
        So there is a real speed concern for those 99% of users who don’t block scripts and third parties, and there is also a speed concern for the remaining 1% (more like 0.0001% if you’re talking about real blocking) when they try to visit a site that does more than displaying an article. Like complex documents, chat, social networking, video, video games, etc, all kinds of activities that by the way can only exist because of the focus on improving speed. And as I said one reason those rare birds blocked all the crap in the first place could have been speed – it’s clearly true for me, even though privacy is my first concern.

        So it’s not a matter of gaining a thousandth of a second :)
        It’s even more dramatically obvious on mobile, or regular desktops owned by people who can’t maintain them and have it slow down to a crawl in a year.

      2. Richard Allen said on June 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm
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        @Gouda

        “People who don’t load third party content on the web are almost non existent”
        Business Insider using PageFair data: “There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile.” That’s the equivalent of all of the U.S., Germany, France and the UK. Publishers are taking a beating.

        “Ad blocking alone doesn’t qualify, still a bunch of stuff loaded”
        I usually pick on Wired but today I’ll look at results from Engadget. Only Using the EasyList Filter, absolutely nothing else used. I saw 43% Less Data downloaded and 67% fewer network requests compared to a naked browser. Using MY default uBO filters, Firefox Privacy Tracking enabled and my hosts file installed I saw 47.5% less data used and 76% fewer network requests compared to using nothing. I loaded the Engadget home page and scrolled to the bottom and back up. Even with a decent four-core processor and 120 Mbps download speed scrolling performance was horrendous. Cache not used. Over the years I’ve seen a 30-70% reduction in data used with my configuration and most high-traffic websites are in the 40-60% range. Most of the worst websites have gotten a lot better in the last year to year and a half. Used to be it was not uncommon to see websites use 30-40 trackers, it’s mostly in the mid teens to low 20’s now on the websites I frequent. I’m confident that anyone using the developer tools in any desktop browser that I know of can duplicate my results.

      3. Tom Hawack said on June 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm
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        @Gouda, I’m not against speed, I love speed, that of a CPU, that of a connection, that of a page display. But not at any cost, not at the cost of a minimalist conception of site’s design, natively or because it is compressed for the sake of it’s display velocity.

        The big thing is what is added to the site, mainly in terms of external connections. Among those you’ll have data CDNs, advertisement, trackers. Google is almost on all sites, be it for scripts, fonts, ads. Facebook is very often called, as well as Twitter. Those three, because quasi systematic and almost everywhere are, IMO, a plea. I’ll use the word, though out of fashion : imperialism, monopoly, live and let die.

        Concerning CDNs, no doubt they have become a necessity for most sites, at least those handling heavy data but also because of security options bundled with the content holding and delivery. But there’s a cost, for the sites and for the users. For the sites it’s normal, for the users far less when it is notorious that he gets involved in the site-CDN transaction. To lower the privacy concern and at the same time save bandwidth you have tools, extensions such as ‘Decentraleyes’ and ‘Load from Cache’ Firefox add-ons (no idea about other browsers). Both theses extensions consider that there is no reason to reload what may be kept/accessed locally. And it works.

        You understand therefor that the problematic as I see it is not to immobilize progress, speed included, but to consider the hierarchy of components. Speed is a tool it’s not design, not art, not even a concept, it’s plain optimization. I will not give more importance to a tool than I’d give to a brush should I paint. The brush may be high-tech with an innovative, revolutionary shape to better fit the artist’s hand, it won’t make the painting, even should it better advantage the paint it won’t make the painting : it’s a tool.

        Now, from this we are from the article’s topic. I was less concerned by AMP of which I knew nothing (perhaps I’ve learned from the article but also from the comments) than by this idea of having everything squeezed, compressed for optimization. There are things you can optimize others you can’t unless to establish a list of what is important and what is less and not. Wow. We live in a world where everyday, everywhere I encounter this paradox : the tremendous increase of power simultaneously to the decrease of comfort. Wise screens and narrow text columns , excellency in audio and video qualities but what for on a tiny smartphone?

        About the third-world, emerging societies and the amount of devotion expressed by those wide companies we know, so charitable when aiming to provide to all the freedom, the right to Internet access. Emerging business, period. And a tremedous source of native and naive data left by those new users of areas which may still believe that Internet is like the phone, plus images. I’ll forget that argument when it comes to legitimate tools running around the AMP project.

        I guess you get the idea, otherwise I’d have to develop and break my rule which is to limit as much as possible sociological and political interference. What I know for sure is that evil exists, everywhere, not only in business and politics but that there is also a mighty bunch of us all, also in business and politics, who are strong, competent, honest and determined. And I believe that stories end well, sooner or later. Also, aesthetically speaking, immorality and even amorality are excessively rude when you consider a soul’s possible elegance.

        So there’s more than hope, there is conviction.

  4. Hipolitus said on June 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm
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    Where is the source code? I don’t trust this web browser, maybe a trojan horse browser.

    1. Jerzy said on June 22, 2017 at 11:43 pm
      Reply

      The AMP Browser uses the original Chromium source code with custom configuration and extension. You can find the build configuration at github.com/niutech/chromium

  5. Richard Allen said on June 22, 2017 at 1:16 am
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    AMP Browser is an interesting concept for the desktop but I couldn’t find one website that would use AMP. I even went so far as to use an android useragent with the Useragent Switcher and got one website to show me their mobile page. It’s too early yet for it to be useful, that I could see, at least on a desktop. Glad to see that for at least my testing purposes that the browser was a portable version and I was surprised to see how fast it was. Other than the useragent switcher I didn’t install any extensions and with only my hosts file it had what looked to be Very fast page load times but I didn’t open the dev tools to verify it. Even video playback worked fine in YouTube. Heck, it looks to be worth using just as a portable browser. I imagine that my extracting the browser and leaving it on my ssd helped. Didn’t think to put it on my rusty data drive to see what the difference in performance would be and now I’m wondering if it’s possible that my hosts files interfered with AMP detection. Rookies! SMH! ;)

    Google is somewhat known for doing what they want with the html standards which is how AMP came about. In this case I think it is a good thing in the sense that it limits what ad networks can do with javascript, video and audio. As it is now visitors to websites need a break from the madness as it relates to security, privacy and annoyances, and ultimately, the publishers themselves need a break from the lost income by those using content blockers. AMP is a step in the right direction but I think publishers are the ones that should have the ability and with that ability the responsibility of deciding what the limits should be in the div that is allotted to the ad network, they should be the ones to decide what is allowed, not Google. The html standards need to change for that to happen and I’m not going to hold my breath.

    A few months ago I saw an interesting discussion in a ‘Security Now’ YouTube video by Steve Gibson and Leo LaPorte titled ‘Taming Web Ads’. The video starts at the beginning of that discussion and the last 5 minutes or so is about AMP. If anyone is interested in checking it out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD_t-5EWMNU&feature=youtu.be&t=6532

    1. Jerzy said on June 22, 2017 at 11:47 pm
      Reply

      Really you couldn’t find a single website using AMP? CNN, BBC, CNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Next Web, Gizmodo, Wired – they all use AMP – and more examples at ampproject.org/case-studies/

      1. Richard Allen said on June 23, 2017 at 2:23 am
        Reply

        Actually, no. I do have the BBC, Gizmodo, and Wired in my toolbar bookmarks, the others I don’t visit. I would think I at least tried to go to one of those three. I’m sure I tried over a dozen different bookmarks…

        I just now tried BBC, Gizmodo and Wired, again. AMP extension icon says ‘AMP HTML not detected’ for all three when on their respective homepages. But…I just realized that clicking on an article on BBC for instance opens an AMP page more often than not. Wired and Gizmodo didn’t have as high a percentage of AMP pages as BBC did but I did see some. And I just saw how obvious (not a complaint) the extension icon is when you are on an AMP page. And the lack of screen real estate being used makes it pretty obvious on a desktop monitor.

        Question. Why are there no ads visible when not on an AMP page. I never saw any ads, on any website, only the occasional empty placeholder. You mention “It also uses Data Compression Proxy” is that Google’s Data Compression Server (Data Saver) that is being used or something else? It’s my understanding that Google’s server used for ‘Data Saver’ works only with HTTP websites and not HTTPS but I was not seeing any ads anywhere, ever. For instance, the Wired homepage is using HTTPS, no ads, I opened the dev tools and saw three dozen failed network requests so obviously something is blocking them. Just curious. I tried taking a screenshot with the popup saying ‘AMP HTML not detected’ but I was too slow, the icon makes it pretty obvious. ;)

        https://s2.postimg.org/m7hmb823d/AMP1.png
        https://s2.postimg.org/vtb6rit95/AMP2.png

      2. Jerzy said on June 23, 2017 at 9:43 am
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        @Richard: Unfortunately AMP they haven’t implemented AMP on their home pages, only on article pages. As for the ad blocking and using Data Compression Proxy (yes, this is the same thing as Google’s Data Saver and it works only for HTTP traffic), these are independent functions of AMP pages and you can toggle each function by right-clicking on the ⚡ icon and selecting Options. There is also a list of blocked URLs patterns you can edit.

  6. Jerzy said on June 22, 2017 at 2:48 am
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    Thank you for writing about my project. The AMP Browser is still in beta and I will consider adding an option to load the mobile version of Google Search, where the AMP pages are indicated with ⚡ icon.

    That said, AMP Browser is not just about loading AMP pages. It also uses Data Compression Proxy and Save-Data header to further improve loading time and reduce costs, especially on low bandwidth and limited data plan. I am also developing an “extreme mode” using Google Web Light, so that AMP Browser should be the best choice on slow and flaky Internet connection.

    Stay tuned!

  7. Jozsef said on June 22, 2017 at 7:14 am
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    The Register’s recent article entitled “Kill Google AMP before it KILLS the web” seemed persuasive to me when I read it. In light of that, I won’t be rushing to install anything related to AMP.

    1. pd said on June 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm
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      Agreed, AMP is evil.

      It’s basically one giant cache that apparently steals hits from web authors like yourself Martin.

      A lot of shitty code is on the web that calls itself “responsive” by hiding chunks of the page ON THE CLIENT side. That means the bloated CSS, HTML and JS must first be download by the poor suckers viewing the web on mobile. Bootstrap by Sh(tw)itter is one of the biggest culprits AFAIK.

      Each and every website published without due care and attention to minimizing every byte, perhaps because “X hundred K is not a lot these days” is responsible for the bloated web and mobile lag.

      That said, so are browser developers who refuse, fuck knows why, to simply bundle libraries like jQuery with the friggin browser! Half-arsed scenarios like CDNs just increase the barrier to entry and thus close the open web that little bit more. What does my head (well, one of the topics) is that there’s never been any suggestion of this amongst the so-called web developer intelligentsia fraternity. They just cannot get their heads out of their arses long enough to look laterally. The web to them is download, download, download or cache. FFS! jQuery could be downloaded once a week by every user out there instead of as often as once per page view for very badly written, or time-sensitive, web pages. Browsers already do this sort of thing in the background such as downloading/updating the safe browsing lists. It would increase the security of the web as well because the web would no longer be quite as dependant on millions of authors updating their code every time another vulnerability is found is code libraries used by the vast majority of websites now.

      Bloody madness!

      Those freaks on the east coast of America, the ones who dictacte the oligopoly prisms (browsers) through which we all engage with so much of the online world, are a law unto themselves and it has to be stopped. Browsers are as critical to modern society as any number of utility services like sewerage, energy and transport. Yet they’re completed unregulated by any single jurisdiction! It’s incredible that the open web has developed collaboratively and becoming such an amazing example for how industry sectors can discard proprietary standards and still compete and thrive as individual companies. However the state of the web should not be left to them alone, nor even the W3C. As has partially happened to date with the EU decision against MS and various accessibilty laws pertaining to the web and other software, the web needs to held accountable to the public or it’s undemocratic and people get squashed by it’s ebbs and flows just as easily as they can theoretically thrive through it (if you’ve got good SEO luck!).

    2. Richard Allen said on June 22, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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      Thanks for the tip on the article. I’ve seen almost zero commentary on AMP by anyone that wasn’t already drunk from drinking the kool-aid.

  8. Tom Hawack said on June 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm
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    This may come in as an interesting experience:
    ‘I decided to disable AMP on my site’ – [https://www.alexkras.com/i-decided-to-disable-amp-on-my-site/]

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