You might not even know Samsung is working on its own browser, but maybe after today you will.
The Korean electronics giant on Wednesday announced a version of its browser, called Samsung Internet, that works on any relatively new Android phone, not just its own or Google‘s scarce Nexus and Pixel models. The browser is still being tested, but Samsung is releasing it gradually worldwide on Google’s Play Store.
Most phones powered by Google’s Android software use Google’s Chrome browser, but Samsung’s browser shows the company hasn’t lost its ambition to become powerful in software, not just hardware. Earlier Samsung software efforts, like its Android apps and its Tizen competitor to Android, have had only middling success.
The Samsung browser requires a phone with Android 5.0, aka Lollipop, or later. Like other modern browsers from Google, Apple, Mozilla, Opera, Microsoft and others, it can synchronize your bookmarks and open tabs, though if you want to sync with a browser on your personal computer you’ll have to install Samsung’s Chrome extension.
The new version also includes a high-contrast display mode to make the browser easier to use for people with visual impairments. And it’s got a selection of ad blockers built into the menu — joining rivals Brave and Opera with another warning to the online ad industry that there’s a real backlash to their technology.
Also included, though disabled by default, is support for WebVR, a technology that brings virtual reality to browsers. For those who enable it, Samsung Internet offers WebVR support to Samsung GearVR headsets. Google already ships WebVR support in its Android version of Chrome, and on Tuesday, for personal computers.
Samsung bases its browser on Chromium, the open-source project behind Chrome, but is eager to have you know it’s not just copying and pasting Google’s work.
“We don’t just pull in features from Chromium but actively contribute into them and into web standards,” Samsung Internet developer advocate Peter O’Shaughnessy said in a blog post.