Will Maxthon MX5 Usurp Google Chrome?
Maxthon, a web browsing tools developer, announced today that it has launched a beta version of its new MX5, the one-stop information assistant that serves as a platform to provide meaningful content to users. The goal of the new browser is to deliver a faster, safer and more personal browsing experience than any product on the market today with three key features: Infobox, Passkeeper, and UUMail.
"The traditional browser is dying," said Maxthon Founder and CEO Jeff Chen. "Web browsers have, for the most part, been defined as just simple presentation tools. But we're saying, hey wait, a browser can be much more than that. It's really a platform that can give people services and content to make lives better and more enjoyable. In other words, the browser will shift more from its minimalist form to a richer information center."
In contrast to other companies in the tech world, the company releases major updates to its browser once every two years or so, with an emphasis on cloud data. Before today's release, Maxthon was last updated in 2014. The company doesn’t register on Web analytics company NetApplications' list of the top browsers either. The rank of the browser falls somewhere into the last 0.14 percent of the browser market under “other.” On a side note, this most recent release was planned to be announced on July 14, but it had been postponed for reasons that were not explained.
The web browser space is quite dominated by huge players like Google so Maxthon had to do something different than those big players to be recognized. That’s why Maxthon’s MX5 browser offers free features that users would normally pay for and also emphasizes on its additional value-added features such as how it renders Web pages quick and accurately through utilizing both the Trident and Webkit rendering engines.
Maxthon built Adblock Plus into the new version in a bid to make sure that the browser is as fast as any other browsers as Ad blocking has been the major feature of the platform. According to PCWorld’s Senior Editor Mark Hachman’s experience, web pages are responsive in under two seconds, and the browser itself consumes about 528MB of memory with only five tabs. This performance is considered really satisfying for a browser with ad-blocking baked in.
Before diving into its new three unique features, I would like to briefly touch upon some small but intriguing features which make the platform worth checking out:
A night mode dims the screen in order to reduce eyestrain.
Developer tools enable programmers to interact pages via various simulated mobile devices.
The RSS icon on a web page leads users to the Feedly RSS reader directly.
MX5 provides a feature called Snap to let those with poor eyesight zoom in on an extreme level.
The platform also offers a custom-crafted extensions page which includes dozens of tools. Many of them are cool, except the fact that users’ devices sometimes give a warning about downloading malicious extensions.
Infobox is designed to integrate bookmarking, note-taking and management, and personal cloud storage into a personal online information center. While typical web browsers only allow a user to bookmark/save a website address, with this new feature, MX5 users will be able to manage and save content, photos, screenshots, and other information from websites, so the information a user saved in Infobox will not be changed even if the content provider makes changes or takes down.
With its Easy Note feature, Infobox also makes note-taking easy. The tool includes many editing functions and allows users to take notes at anytime, anywhere. Users even can save those notes as a permanent bookmark "card", with just one click.
Users can save the file to either their hard drive or to the Maxthon cloud, In addition, thanks to cross-platform data synchronization, those stored files can be synced with Android and other instances of the browser.
"Maxthon put a lot of thought into developing Infobox," said Chen. "We saw a lot of pain points and wanted to do something—to reduce users' difficulties in browsing the web, make note-taking more convenient and eliminate cross-platform sync-up issues. Infobox isn't just a collection function, it's a service for the whole platform."
Other features include offline visiting and free 1 GB of new uploads monthly.
Passkeeper is developed to generate complex, unique passwords which include the number of characters, numerals, upper, and lower case, accepting special characters, and then offers to save it as an encrypted password in its digital storehouse.
According to what the company states, Passkeeper provides triple encryption and multi-channel security using the AES25 algorithm which strengthens the local database encryption and provides safer transmission to the cloud via https. In other words, data stored in the cloud can’t be seen by Maxthon’s own staff.
With Passkeeper, users can check each account login detail to avoid remote, unauthorized login. Passkeeper can also sync up and function across all device types.
Even though it’s claimed that data stored in the cloud has been double-encrypted, the serious security scandal regarding user data sent to Maxthon begs the question whether users can trust Maxthon with those passwords. We will discuss the security concern here after the review of the third new feature; UUmail.
If you are one those people who have created multiple email accounts for different purposes to get rid of spam, don’t feel alone as the 2014 Email Research Report found the typical user had 3.9 email addresses. However, it doesn’t make the downsides of this solution, such as inefficiency, vulnerability and more spam, any better. In an effort to solve this issue, Maxthon developed UUMail to help users manage their mailboxes efficiently.
UUMail is a virtual email inbox. It's not a real mailbox, but rather a management tool for multiple mailboxes. It allows one mailbox to control all of the user's mailboxes, helping users manage emails in a safer, more personalized and pithy way.
UUMail not only blocks spam but also provides some anonymity online by creating numerous shadow email IDs that connect to their personal email box. For instance, Maxthon provides a host server (uu.me), but UUMail users have the option to personalize their email address and provide a part of the domain followed by uu.me. It means that users can set up various disposable email addresses on that domain. A toggle switch also allows you to turn off those disposable email addresses for any reason.
Without revealing one's personal email ID, UUMail protects the privacy of the email IDs and keep users safe from spam and other unwanted information.
Is Maxthon a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, though?
As mentioned earlier in the article, some serious security concerns came to light regarding user data sent to Maxthon almost three weeks ago. Beijing-based browser provider has allegedly been collecting telemetry about its users. Polish security consultancy Exatel prepared a report claiming that the Maxthon browser collects data without the knowledge or consent of surfers after the firm came across the issue after looking into the source of suspicious traffic in a customer's environment. According to the report, an earlier version of Maxthon's browser allegedly sends users’ entire browsing history, a list of all software installed on their devices, and other details of their PCs to a Maxthon server in China. CEO Jeff Chen denies it, yet he claims that the company is now based in San Francisco, with a San Francisco-based server, and your data does not enter China.
Maxthon issued a statement to elaborate the situation: “The data sent via the user experience program was a bug, dating back to 2007, and it has been fixed. If a user opts out of User Experience Improvement Program (UEIP), the browser should not report any information.” Maxthon also confirmed that it does send back the URLs users visit, but does so to check if the Web site is safe or not. “The shipping version of MX5 will have the option to turn off the scanner. We're leaving our review intact, but strongly urge you to consider these caveats when deciding whether or not to download” said Maxthon. The company also states that its browser offers surfers a safe haven from the prying eyes of America's NSA and its PRISM program while seemingly spewing information about them over the web.
Maxthon came back with some handy features in its latest MX5 edition. Although password management and email spoofing features require users to trust in the company, which doesn’t seem really easy after its security scandal, built-in ad blocking, its speedy performance, free password generation feature, and shadow email option make the free browser worth a download or at least a YouTube trip:
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when CMS-Connected publishes new content.