Although more and more websites are optimized for mobile use these days, many smartphone users still find browsing the web on their devices to be a frustrating experience. After all, if your screen is only a few inches big, there’s a limit to how effective and easy web browsing can possibly be, especially when compared with the visually pleasing and feature-rich browsing experience that most desktop computers offer. But don’t despair: there are a number of tips and strategies that you can use to significantly improve the quality of your smartphone web browsing. Here are a few favorites:
Make sure you have the best browser for your phone.
There aren’t too many significant differences between the top mobile browsers available today, but it’s still worth checking up on which browser is the best fit for your phone and browsing habits. For example, you might prefer Chrome (the top choice for most smartphone users) if you like to be able to sync your tabs across different devices—this is one of Chrome’s most powerful features. On the other hand, if you tend to view a lot of Flash content online, alternatives like Puffin Browser and its extremely high loading speeds might be a more suitable option.
Learn your gestures and shortcuts.
To cut down on the time that mobile web browsing takes, there are a number of helpful gestures and shortcuts that you can commit to memory. Regardless of what browser you use, it has its share of features and functionalities hidden behind a few taps and swipes.
For example, some well-known Safari shortcuts include tapping and holding the period key to bring up a list of extensions when typing domain names, or swiping left or right to move through your browsing history. Chrome shortcuts include swiping horizontally across the top toolbar to jump between open tabs, or viewing all open tabs by swiping down from the tab icon. Yes, finding and learning these tricks takes a bit of time and effort, but it’s one of the best ways to boost your browsing experience.
Use text expansion.
If you’re someone who uses a smartphone to send long emails, you’ve probably had your fair share of frustrations with the often tedious process of touchscreen typing. But did you know that you can take some of the hassle away by using a text expansion app?
This allows you to create your own frequently used typing shortcuts that expand into longer words or even whole phrases. It’s a great tool for making short work of all the long words or phrases you often use in your emails or text messages; think here of phrases like “Please let me know if you have any questions” or “Thank you for your email.” iPhones with iOS 5 or higher have this feature already included with the keyboard, while Android users can download one of the many available free text expansion apps, such as Textspansion.
Install an ad blocker.
Ad blockers don’t just stop unwanted advertisements from taking up precious space on your smartphone screen. They can also help websites load faster and can reduce the strain on your phone’s battery, helping you get more time between charges. The Android browser extension Adblock Plus automatically blocks ads on all sites, while 1Blocker and Ad Block Multi for iPhone have both been shown to boost mobile web page loading speeds by more than 60%.
Use data saver mode.
When your network connection is slow, it can be frustrating to have to wait for web pages to load, especially if you’re trying to browse quickly. Enabling your smartphone’s data saver mode helps with this by compressing web pages or by blocking large images from displaying if the connection speed isn’t high enough. This lets you view more pages faster and can help you save valuable data. Android users can activate this feature by tapping the “Advanced” option in the Settings menu; iPhone users will find data saving options in Settings under “Bandwidth.”
Make websites more reader-friendly.
Even mobile-optimized websites can feature a lot of clutter or other distracting elements, making them difficult to navigate. Luckily, many browsers have a viewing option that can make web pages less visually confusing. Chrome, for example, offers a “Reader Mode” which users can activate by selecting the icon in the main menu and then restarting the browser; this helps clear up visual clutter and streamline mobile-displayed webpages. Sometimes, this feature does disable images or videos embedded in the webpage itself. If you notice this, it’s best to simply turn off Reader Mode to access your content.
In addition, if you’re in the habit of reading on your phone at night, another simple trick to make things easier on the eyes is simply to dim your device’s screen. Android’s “Twilight” app applies a red-toned filter to your display that improves night-time viewing without compromising night vision. The latest iPhones come equipped with a similar “Night Shift” mode pre-installed.