Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dolphin Browser plugs location hole, gestures lose direction, Flash back, splash gone

Where do you surf?

Dolphin Browser is one of the best Android web browsers out there, mainly because of its highly customisable gesture controls and the way it handles tabs.

Unfortunately Dolphin has the nasty habit of pushing out updates with privacy issues. Last year they added a "webzine" feature that sent your entire surfing history to who-knows-where. They fixed it, but only after the web cried out and Dolphins reputation started to smell like rotten fish.

You still need to block traffic to to keep your Android ID and other data out of Dolphins fins.

Where are you?

A couple of days ago a new Dolphin update punched a new hole in the app. After the update Dolphin started to poll your location at every app launch for no good reason. It took while, but eventually they released an update that fixes the location polling issue. Dolphin's more or less clean again, at least for now.

Do these privacy violations mean that Dolphin is a piece of malware made by spammers and scammers? Possibly, but given the speed with which they fixed the issues I think Dolphins programmers are not malicious but merely incompetent.

Where does my swipe point to?

The update that brought the location bug also brought more precise gesture control. Good stuff, but not really. The gesture update came at a price that I'm not willing to pay.

You see, I set up Dolphin to switch tabs with a single horizontal swipe. Drawing a line from left to right brings me one tab to the right, swiping to the left brings me one tab to the left.

But after last update Dolphin decided that a left-to-right swipe is too similar to a right-to-left swipe. The only way I could keep my gesture controls the way I want them was to restore my old Dolphin settings from my Titanium backup, because the new Dolphin no longer accepts a left-to-right swipe if you already set a swipe in the opposite direction. The direction of the swipe movement is no longer enough for Dolphin to tell different gestures apart.

Flash back, splash gone

Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jellybean, no longer supports Flash. Well, not officially. You can sideload Flash to your Jellybean device if you want to keep access to Flash-only sites. The problem is that Dolphin won't run Flash on Jellybean anymore unless you force it to, which requires root access.

If you restore a Titanium backup of your Dolphin settings from an earlier Android version Flash comes back to Dolphin, but only if you had Flash enabled or "on demand" when you made the backup. Of course you can use other backup apps like MyBackup to restore your old Flash-capable settings, but only if you made such a backup before you switched to Jellybean. If you don't have a suitable backup there's an alternative: just delete Dolphins settings file in its system folder and it will run Flash again.

The splash screen that entered Dolphin last update (probably to hide its slower startup) is gone. That's good, because if your app starts so slow that it needs a splash screen you have to fix its load time, not hide it behind a bit of eye candy.

Dolphin Browser (Google Play Store)

Flash in Dolphin on Jelly Bean (xda)

Adobe Flash installer

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