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April 6, 2014

Javelin Browser comes with one-handed gestures, ad blocking, built-in VPN

Right now, if you aren’t using your Android phone’s built-in Web browser, then you’re probably using Chrome, but there are a number of popular browser alternatives out there, and one of our new favourites is Javelin. It’s one of the first browsers built around the idea that we’re using it on a mobile phone, not a desktop.

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Javelin packs a several features you rarely see on mobile browsers, especially Chrome and the Android browsers. These features include one-handed gestures, a special viewing mode, a built-in VPN, its own incognito mode (Chrome does have this), and even an ad-blocker. This all revolves around a very straightforward, simple UI featuring a bit of Holo-style colour and flair.

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Javelin comes as a 30 free trial then you will have to pay $2.99 for the pro version.

According to Javelin’s developer Steven Goh, the idea for Javelin began with building extensions for desktop browsers like Chrome to get around things like porn filters in the UK. He wanted to design a mobile browser based on another, super-fast browser called Lightning Browser that could offer that same functionality too, plus a few other added features. Steven Goh Javelin Browser is built atop the open source Lightning Browser‘s codebase. The VPN is offered as a “Spirit Mode” on the browser, allowing one-click access to a direct VPN that will help secure your Internet access so you can get around things like blocked webpages. Spirit Mode comes with a one-month free trial then you pay  $1.99 a month.


Experiencing the Web on Javelin is pretty much as you’d expect on a speed-oriented browser like Chrome. Pages render quickly and the interface is responsive and easy to use. Javelin comes with some gesture options too, such as swiping to switch between tabs. It’s designed so you can do anything you normally could on a browser with just one touch, whether it be going back, entering a URL and even zooming in. Javelin also includes its own “Incognito” or private mode so you can browse without logging a search history or accepting cookies.

Another feature we like about Javelin is called reading mode, which extracts the text from a webpage and presents it in an easy-to-read format with no images or fluff in between you and the content. You can access reading mode by clicking on a small picture of an eye in the browser, and it’s possible to adjust text size and invert the colors depending on the time of day. It’s not perfect with every page because it doesn’t know when an article ends and other content (like comments) begin, but we are impressed by how much easier it is to read news and webpages with a built-in reading mode.

Javelin isn’t perfect, though. One major flaw is that the address bar won’t expand when looking at URLs in greater detail, making it hard to type things in and see your Web address. There’s also no suggested search option, which would offer a drop-down of possible search results as you type in your query. While this isn’t absolutely necessary, it’s a part of Chrome and other browsers that we’ve become used to and it can be helpful since you don’t have to type everything out when searching for something.
The lack of a help page that explains all the features and gestures is also something we wish was there. If you’re a heavy user of Chrome, you’ll also have to remember there’s no syncing with Javelin, meaning you can’t share bookmarks, webpages, or other content between your desktop and phone.

Javelin also recommends you use its built-in ad-blocker, which helps speed up load times. While downloading an ad blocker is already possible from the Play Store, Javelin gives you single click access when you first open the browser. While this does improve the end-user’s experience, many websites (including Beginnerstech) depend on ad revenue to support themselves. Goh defends his inclusion of an ad-blocker, saying that the quality of advertising on mobile is poor and non-intrusive ads like Google Search ads are not blocked.

So, it’s not perfect, but Javelin offers a slew of features built around a slick looking interface. If you’re bored of Chrome, want a VPN built right into your browser, or just want to try something new when browsing the Web,

You can read more about Javelin Browser over at XDA-Developers


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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini