Embedded Web Browsers Are Annoying

I wonder if I’m the only one who shares this opinion: embedded web browsers suck.

I’m talking about the web browsers of the many communication apps, messaging services, and social networks that live on our smartphones (such as Gmail, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn…).

Usually, when I receive an interesting link by email or discover one on an app like LinkedIn or Instagram, I don’t have the time to read it right away, so I open the link to check it out later. However, when the link opens in the app’s browser, there is no possibility to add the content to a reading list, bookmark it, or keep the tab open to return to it later. Indeed, if I leave the app and come back later, the embedded browser will have closed, and the content that interested me will no longer be available — and good luck finding it again in a social networking app!

If, by any chance, the page in the app’s embedded browser stayed open, I would no longer be able to use the app, since its main content would be obscured by the browser.

So, every time I want to open a link that seems interesting and discovered through one of these apps, it’s always the same routine:

  1. I click on the link in the app
  2. The page displays within the app’s integrated browser
  3. I look for the option, often hidden, to open the link in my smartphone’s default browser
  4. The default browser opens and shows the page I want to read
  5. I go back to the initial app to close the embedded browser to continue what I was doing (reading an email or browsing a social network)

And it’s only when the page I want to read is open in my default browser that I can either:

  • leave the tab open for later
  • add it to my reading list
  • read it by turning the page into reading mode (which is not an option with browsers integrated into apps)

This is annoying, time-consuming, and counterproductive.

What do publishers and developers hope to achieve by forcing us to stay within their app? It detracts from the overall browsing experience and hides the main content of their app. I assume it’s to collect data and have a finer tracking of user behavior, at the expense of user experience.

Fortunately, I find myself spending less and less time on social media apps, so this kind of situation is becoming less frequent, but when it happens, I can’t help but complain.