Samsung adds ad blocking to its Android browser

Also in today's open source roundup: Removing the Facebook app can help boost your Android device's battery life by up to 20 percent. And is Linux Mint better than Ubuntu?

Samsung adds ad blocking to its Android browser
Credit: PROAdam Wyles

Samsung adds ad blocking features to its Android browser

Ad blocking became all the rage on iOS devices after Apple added the feature to its iOS 9 operating system. Ad blockers became some of the most downloaded apps in the iOS App Store. Now Samsung is following in Apple's footsteps and has added ad blocking capabilities to its Android browser.

Dan Seifert reports for The Verge:

Samsung is today adding support for content and ad blocking plugins to the web browser preinstalled on its Android phones. The updated browser, which is being pushed to Samsung phones with Android Marshmallow starting today, with plans for Lollipop availability in the coming months, will let users install helper apps that block ads from websites they visit, similar to how content and ad blocking works in Apple's Safari browser in iOS 9. An ad or content blocker could reduce loading times and mobile data usage, as web pages loaded without ads are much smaller than those with advertising enabled.

Blocking ads and other content on Android has not been as simple as installing a browser extension, and Google's own Chrome browser, which is preinstalled on Android phones, often alongside another browser, such as Samsung's Internet, does not yet support content blockers. Some third-party browsers, such as the recently announced Brave, offer integrated ad-blocking features, but have not proven to be nearly as popular as Chrome. As a result, while blocking ads on desktop browsers is a common practice, most people don't bother blocking them on mobile.

The first content blocker available for Samsung's Internet is Adblock Fast, which is also available for iOS and Chrome and Opera on the desktop. Adblock Fast is free to install and open source, and already boasts 200,000 users across the various platforms it's available on. The company says that the plugin decreases load times on Android by an average of 51 percent. It is available to phones with Samsung Internet 4.0 via the Google Play Store. Crystal, one of the earliest and most popular iOS content blockers, is also now available for Samsung's browser.

More at The Verge

Facebook app eats up battery life of Android devices

Facebook's Android app has long been known to be a battery devourer. And now some folks have noted that by removing the Facebook app from their Android phone, they gain up to 20% more battery life.

Samuel Gibbs reports for The Guardian:

Facebook does not have the greatest track record with its Android app. Users have long complained about performance issues and it sucking up battery and last year Facebook's chief product officer, Chris Cox, took the unusual step of making his staff ditch their iPhones and move to Android until they sorted out the issues.

But the problems have remained, and recently they led the Android blogger Russell Holly to dump the app, starting a chain reaction which revealed something rather interesting about the app's performance. Prompted by Holly's revelation that life on Android was better without Facebook's app, Reddit user pbrandes_eth tested the app's impact on the performance of an LG G4.

They found that when the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps were uninstalled, other apps on the smartphone launched 15% faster. They tested 15 separate apps, and documented the findings, leading other reddit users to test other devices. They found similar results when testing for app loading performance.

More at The Guardian

Is Linux Mint better than Ubuntu?

Ubuntu has long been regarded as one of the top Linux distributions around, with Linux Mint a close second. But has the time come for Ubuntu users to consider dumping it for Linux Mint? A writer at Datamation examined the two distros and had some interesting conclusions.

Matt Hartley reports for Datamation:

Overall, Linux Mint feels far more polished than Ubuntu with Unity. Yes, part of this is due to my dislike for Unity and its abundance of head-scratching "huh" moments it provides. But in terms of adding basic indicators, extending functionality in a unified manner (not relying on apt, etc) and a clean flow between the desktop to control center, Mint wins big time.

Now for stuff that would make Mint better than it already is. First off, Linux Mint (and other distros) should be slapped for not offering newbies a toggle switch during the install to use TLP. Without TLP, Linux battery life on any kernel is pretty poor. Another thing that should be provided by default is a working touchpad disable while typing function. Ubuntu MATE does this smooth as butter right out of the box. Yet Linux Mint's feature for this is DOA on my tested Intel based laptop. Ubuntu of course, didn't even offer such a function within the Mouse/Touchpad settings.

And lastly, Firefox using Yahoo as the default search engine. To be fair, I have no problem with this…except that Google wasn't even an option in the secondary search engine box at all. Normally when you use Firefox's change search engine feature, Google is an option. Not with Mint apparently!

Can I recommend Linux Mint to those looking to switch folks over from Windows to Linux? Yes, if they're using a desktop PC. However, to even suggest that this is usable for laptops means you're ignoring some significant bugs that need to be addressed. Someone would need to make sure the touchpad issues are addressed (it's 2016 people, c'mon!) and TLP is installed for laptops. Without those two features addressed by either a "tech helper" or the Mint team, this isn't a laptop ready OS for a Linux newcomer in my opinion.

More at Datamation

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