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Smartphones

Powerful browser brings Chrome’s best features to your iPhone

Browser extensions, available on Chromium-based browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera, have helped make the web surfing experience a bit easier. Through things like automatic currency converters and translations, there is almost no need to move away from the page you are on.

Thousands of extensions have been created since the functionality launched for Chrome in 2009. In fact, by the last count, there were over 100,000 of them available. Just make sure your browser is updated to protect against the latest attacks. Tap or click here to fix a recent Chrome vulnerability.

Some of the best features found in Chrome have been missing from Apple devices. Until now. Let’s look at a new browser that works on your iPhone that can rival Chrome on most tools.

Here’s the backstory

Insight Browser isn’t an extension itself, but rather a powerful browser. It is the first iOS browser with extensions and brings much of the functionality previously reserved for Google’s Chrome.

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It must be stressed, though, that you can’t load Chrome’s extensions into Insight. Any extension for the new browser needs to be developed for the platform. But Insight claims that add-ons can be developed with a UI on the phone itself, and no coding knowledge is necessary.

Some of the available extensions include:

  • Trusted reviews for shopping
  • Coupon codes and deals
  • Comparison shopping
  • Ad blocking
  • Disabling cookies
  • Reader Mode
  • Invert colors for night reading

Sounds good, but what about privacy?

Insight uses WKWebView as the foundation, which is essentially the same as Safari. By blocking most trackers, however, it claims to be up to 35% faster. Blocking trackers is also what keeps you safe, and the browser does this by default.

RELATED: Security warning: Private browser feature exposes search history

“Insight disables trackers by default with a much larger blocklist than Safari. While Insight uses server-side logic to suggest extensions as you browse. This data is never logged, but you can also turn this setting off so Insight does not make any calls to its servers at all,” the website explains.

There also shouldn’t be a concern over user-created extensions, as they can only be made from a set of predefined conditions.

Here is how to create an extension:

  • While browsing, tap the rocket emoji.
  • This will bring up a list of the currently used or installed extensions.
  • At the bottom, tap Add Extension.
  • Select your conditions and tap Save.

Further down the page, you can share your extension so that others can use it too. This is how many of the add-ons will be created.

All conditions are logic-based, meaning it takes on an If This Then That (ITTT) format. For example, you can create an extension where it only shows you results from a specific domain when you search for recipes.

For this, the logic-based extension will:

  • Check if the search engine is Google
  • (IF) a search for a recipe is performed
  • (THEN) display results from <example domain> only

You would also use the same logic to exclude domains, automatically take screenshots or disable cookies.

What else can the extensions do?

One of the more intriguing extensions copies the functionality of YouTube’s $12 a month premium package. It allows you to skip ads, download videos for offline viewing and watch videos in picture-in-picture mode. That hasn’t been offered before.

Whether the browser itself will gain traction with a larger user base is still to be seen. But the ability to create your own extensions is a major draw. As pointed out, the extensions available right now aren’t near the scale of Chrome, but that should grow with the community.

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