Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bolt browser for Android out of beta testing but fails miserably

There are a lot of web browsers for Android, and now that Bolt is out of beta testing the Android Market offers yet another one. Bolt is an old browser that has been available for Symbian since many years, and it ranked among the worst web browsers back then. The Android version keeps that old tradition alive.

Bolt starts with a tabbed screen for quick launching of your favourite websites. The "favorites" tab is similar to the start screens of Opera and Dolphin, but nowhere near as good. The Bolt screen comes preloaded with links to Bolts sponsors. You can replace 'em with links to your own favourite websites, except for one: the number one spot on the list is occupied by a link to the GetJar app store that won't go away no matter how hard you try. The same screen sports a web apps tab that advertises a Bolt app store, and there's no way to get rid of it. The social tab is just a link to a useless, stripped down version of Facebook. You can't remove unwanted tabs from the launch screen.

Although Bolt puts its start screen tabs right in your face, the tabs that really matter are hidden away. If you open a few websites in tabs, you need to enter the menu to switch between them.

Similar to Skyfire and Opera Mini, Bolt renders pages in the cloud and then sends the output to your phone in a proprietory format. The cloud rendering is supposed to speed up browsing and eat less data, but Bolt is the slowest Android web browser I've ever seen. Opera and Skyfire render pages pretty well, Bolt doesn't. It chokes on sites with frames, it won't reflow text to fit your screen, its cloud rendering renders your ad blocker useless, and once a page is finally loaded it takes forever to scroll around in that page. If you can scroll at all: I often got stuck on the right side of a page because Bolt wouldn't let me scroll back to the left.

The best thing you can do with Bolt after you loaded it on your phone: hit the uninstall button. There are plenty of competing browsers out there that do a better job than Bolt.

Bolt (Android Market)

A few Android web browsers that outperform Bolt:

Opera Mini (Android Market)
Skyfire (Android Market)

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