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Updated 10/7/2013 for Android 4

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I am sure that the information below is hopelessly out-of-date.  I confess, I mostly use my smartphone for making phone calls.  And I am still using a Galaxy S III Mini.  Intrepid users can surely figure out what to do with a modern phone.

Running JavaScript-enabled html documents as smart phone apps

JavaScript-enabled html documents can be run as simple, cross-platform, smart phone apps.  Things have changed significantly since I originally wrote this page in 2011 using Android 2.2.1.  Here are some instructions for downloading and running html documents on a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini with Android 4.2.2.

The condensed version:

• Download Dolphin Browser, UC Browser, and File Widget.

• Do your browsing and running of apps with Dolphin.

• When you come to a page that you want to save, use the Send to Browser add-on (from the Menu button) to send it to UC Browser.

• In UC Browser, use the Save Page add-on (from the little button at the upper right, beside the address bar) to save the page.  The default location is  /sdcard/UCDownloads, mirrored at  /storage/emulated/0/UCDownloads.

• Long-click the desktop and choose Apps and widgets, or just press the Apps desktop shortcut, and choose File Widget.  Drag it to a spot on the desktop.

• Select the file that you just saved by pressing the Pick File button.  The default location is the mirror at  /storage/emulated/0.  Open UCDownloads; the file you saved will have an .html extension.

• Enter a shortcut label.  The edit icon is useful as it lets you go back and change the shortcut’s title and other display options.  I like to use the Dolphin application icon.

• The shortcut will be created on your desktop.  Now all you have to do is open it using Dolphin.


Dolphin is the best Android browser for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it handles advanced JavaScript effortlessly.  Having been around for a long time, it also has plenty of useful add-ons, such as Send to Browser.  It now has its own file browser as well, accessed from Menu — Downloads, so you don’t actually have to create desktop shortcuts if you don’t want to.

You can actually save html documents with Dolphin, just not the associated files such as images and css.  Long-click the link to a file, then select Save link; the default location is  /storage/emulated/0/download.

Dolphin Jetpack is a useful add-on for general browsing, but the link magnifier feature prevents some dynamic HTML events.  It may have to be disabled to use some pages.

UC Browser is the only one that I know of that saves entire web pages, including the html document and associated files, in their native formats.  And it does it simply and easily.  It is a good all-around web browser, also with its own file browser, and seems to be able to handle JavaScript; but it has some trouble rendering all of the dynamic html and css.  Of note, it saves html documents as they are rendered, including scripted elements, not the raw html file on the server the way desktop browsers do.  I updated The Virtual Yarrow Stalks I Ching on 10/11/2013 to account for this issue.

The only other browsers that I know of that save entire web pages are Opera Classic and Opera Mini.  But the documents are saved in proprietary formats that are not readable by other browsers.  And no version of Opera that I have ever used, either mobile or desktop, is reliable with advanced JavaScript.

Other browsers that seem to handle advanced JavaScript and dynamic HTML, and would be alternatives to Dolphin, are Baidu, Boat Browser, iLunascape, Maxthon, and Next Browser.  Boat Browser and iLunascape can save web pages, but only the html document, not the associated files.  Firefox and ONE Browser do almost everything, but are lacking a little in their HTML display abilities.  In addition, Firefox is slow; it takes up to 18 seconds to render the large fractal table in the Fractal I Ching, while most of the others take only 5 or 6.  Angel and Sleipnir are not up to the task.  And Chrome, Ninesky, and Puffin do not integrate into File Widget or the file managers described below, and so cannot be used to open saved files.

The browsers above are all free.  xScope Browser ($2.99) has a lot of potential for being an all-in-one browser and file manager, if it would only download files like UC Browser.  Otherwise, it seems fully functional.

Other applications for creating desktop shortcuts include File Shortcut, ASTRO File Manager, and ES File Explorer.  They all have their own issues.  File Shortcut works o.k., but has fewer options than File Widget, the main one being that shortcuts cannot be edited after they are created.  Also, it cannot create a shortcut to a folder; File Widget comes with Folder Widget to do just that.  Dolphin will open ASTRO shortcuts, while UC Browser won’t.  And ASTRO seems to be a little outdated; it crashes now and then, such as when creating a shortcut after the file view option is changed from Grid to List.  And the crash may reset all of your ASTRO shortcuts, along with their titles, to default ASTRO icons.  Neither Dolphin nor UC Browser will open the shortcuts created by ES File Explorer.

A number of other applications are available for saving web pages for offline viewing.  I prefer UC Browser to all of them; it is easier to use, and the downloaded files are easy to identify.  Of the others, OffLine Browser by NiKoDroid70 is probably the best.  All files are saved, including images, .css, and .js; they are easy to find (/storage/emulated/0/OffBrowser), although not intiutively named; and when using the app, the pages can be opened in any browser by using Share Page.  Offline Browser by Theis Borg (/storage/emulated/0/websnake) simply numbers all the supporting files without extensions, so they cannot be opened by themselves; and the app only provides a choice between the inline or default browsers.  Save This Page (/storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com.envisinex.savethispage) saves all the files o.k., but doesn’t offer download options like the others do, nor any choice of browser using the app.  Web page downloader (/storage/emulated/0/Android/data/ saves all the files in date-stamped folders, and any browser can be used from the app by using Open downloaded page; but the interface is a little confusing.  Read Web Offline (/storage/emulated/0/cacheRwo) only saves the html document and images, no other supporting files; and apparently does not save the html in Unicode format, as special charactes such as bullets are garbled.  And Offline Browser by NM MOBILE crashes when saving; I haven’t been able to use it.