Samsung Internet, the electronics giant’s mobile browser, is now available as a test version for most Android devices instead of being exclusive to Samsung phones and tablets, according to a blog post. The browser has more than 100 million downloads, but Chrome, Opera and Firefox are more popular on Android devices.
The latest test version of Samsung Internet has quick access to content blockers, with a list of extensions to give users more control over specific elements of a mobile web page to block. The browser also has Bluetooth and WebVR functionality and the ability to sync among multiple devices.
Samsung Internet will not work on anything older than Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Samsung Internet has earned positive reviews for its features that include high-contrast mode to make web pages easier to read and its updated ad blocker, which is a more troublesome feature for mobile marketers and publishers. The browser isn't an immediate threat to its larger competitors. However, advanced ad blocking could help Samsung introduce Android users to its software services like its smart assistant Bixby. While Samsung is a leader in mobile hardware, the company has been trying for several years to gain a foothold in mobile software, an area that its of growing importance to device markers as the smartphone market matures. Apple recently reported that it had a strong quarter for its Services category, with App Store, Apple Music and iCould services all experiencing revenue growth. Overall, revenue for the services category grew 22% year-over-year for a total of $7.3 billion, an all-time high.
Ad blocking usage grew by 30% last year worldwide, according to a report this year from PageFair, the maker of software tools to avoid ad blocking. About 11% of internet users globally used ad blockers to avoid some form of digital advertising last year when surfing the web. That equates to 615 million devices, from smartphones to traditional computers.
Mobile ad blocking surged 40% to 380 million actives devices worldwide, overtaking desktop usage, PageFair said. The Asia-Pacific area has the highest proportion of mobile ad block users, with 94% of global usage occurring in the region. About two out of three smartphones in India has ad blocking software. The growth is attributed to partnerships among ad blocking browsers and device manufacturers in the region.