Smartphones have been around for a decade now. Introduced as internet-connected devices, the web browser in an integral part of smartphone. And frankly, if you look at the web browsers, hardly anything has changed in the past decade. Yes, we have seen new features such as ad blockers, built-in VPN and data saver mode introduced in browsers. Some browsers have also added news feed and themes support, but there hasn’t been something interesting.
Cake Technology, a venture-backed startup, founded in 2016, wants to change that with its new Cake browser. Available on Android and iOS platforms, Cake browser presents a while new take on improving the mobile web browsing experience. The browser brings ‘swipe’ feature that allows you to swipe between search results and categories, rather than showing the search result page. The feature is what made dating app Tinder popular, allowing users to swipe right to ‘like’ the profile and left to ‘pass.’
What is Cake browser all about?
When you search for a term on the Cake browser, instead of showing search results page from Google or Bing, it directly opens the most relevant site from the ‘top stories’ section. In case the first result doesn’t offer enough information that you had been looking for, you can swipe to the left through the carousel for other, related pages.
For instance, you search for “InFocus A2” and “Nokia 3310 4G” on the Cake browser, it will open the high-ranking web page. Luckily, when I tested, it opened a result from our website, with other websites in the carousel.
I also searched for Spider-Man, and the browser took me to Marvel’s official website, while skipping the IMDB and Wikipedia entries, or Time Magazine where a news related to Spider-Man was posted hours ago. Swiping to the left, second was a Wikipedia entry, followed by Time, and more.
Cake browser interface
The browser has a neat and simple interface. When you open the app, you are presented with a search box with some top searched keywords. After you key in the search term, you can hit enter on the keyboard app to search for the desired term. You also have icons for video, image, news or shopping, to bring you other relevant results.
Once the page is opened, you have the refresh button on the top left, whereas the bottom has the back, bookmark, share and switch tabs button. In the center, you also have an icon, which represents whether you are in image search, video search, news, or shopping search.
Tapping on switch tab button, you have buttons to add a new tab, switch to incognito, or go through history and delete it. At the bottom left, you have the three dots settings button, where you can choose indexing sites for web search, video search, image and shopping search.
In case if web search, you can choose between Google and Bing as your default search engine. The video search can include or exclude results from YouTube, DailyMotion and Vimeo. Similarly, in case of image and shopping search, you can choose between the likes of Giphy, Flickr, Pixabay, Bing, and Google, whereas shopping sites include Snapdeal, Flipkart, eBay and Amazon India. So, if you search for headphones in shopping category, the browser will offer search results from the e-commerce sites.
Is it good enough to switch?
I’m used to Google Chrome on my smartphone and laptop, and I prefer it as all my passwords and bookmarks are synced across devices. But despite being comfortable with Chrome, I don’t mind trying out other browsers. Often times, I do use Samsung browser or Firefox Focus. Cake browser’s unique feature did excite me to give it a try. In fact, for a couple of days, I made a point to ditch Chrome and use Cake browser. And well, after the initial excitement, I was disappointed.
In case of Chrome or any other browser, you have the results in front, giving you an option to open the one you want. In case of Cake browser, it preloads about five pages in the background. So, when you swipe on the left, the page is already loaded. But that is exactly where the problem lies.
Firstly, the time taken to open the web page is longer, you generally have to wait for up to 10 seconds or more. And that is annoying. Secondly, even though an AMP page is available, it opens the desktop site, which consumes more data. And on top of that, the app is buggy, and goes unresponsive most of the times. This is despite trying out on a Pixel XL and Galaxy Note 8, both of which come with 4GB of RAM or more.
I used Google’s Datally app to see how much data is consumed. I searched for the exact four terms on both browsers, and while search result page on Google Chrome consumed less than 1MB, the search result itself consumed about 4MB on Cake browser. I also opened a couple of e-commerce sites and other 10 web pages. By the end of the session, Chrome had consumed 27MB data, whereas with the same usage, Cake browser crossed 60MB.
Yes, I have a good data plan that gives me over 1GB a day, but I wouldn’t want to spend unnecessary data on some sites that are being preloaded in the background. Ideally, if Cake browser loaded mobile and AMP pages, it would have been better. Of course, these improvements can come in future updates, but for now, even though I like the idea, the bugs and data consumption refrain me from using it on a prolonged basis.