Ad-blocking Monument Browser UWP now twice the speed of Edge

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Back at the start of 2017, I mentioned a new UWP browser which featured ad-blocking and other 'advanced' technologies, at least scoring points over Edge on Windows 10 Mobile. Since then, there have been numerous app updates, culminating in v2.2.80 that brings the browser, in my opinion, to pre-eminence on the OS, i.e. use this instead of Edge for a faster and more pleasant experience on the modern web.

If you've been trying Monument Browser then you'll be curious as to what's changed since my January story. I've attempted a changelog below:

  • Fluent Design 'acrylic' blur used for menus and other UI elements

  • 'Find in page' feature added

  • An option to save a page offline in HTML, preserving many of the contents of the page for true offline reading later

  • The ability to annotate a web page with scribbles and notes and more, and then share the result

  • The usual bug fixes and optimisations

Why use Monument Browser? Well, capable though Edge is, it still a poor relation to the same application on the desktop - the page annotations are perhaps something most mobile users won't miss, but the ad-blocking extensions from the desktop are sorely missed on the phone, especially given potential limited connection speeds. And yes, I appreciate the irony in me talking about ad-blocking, given that AAWP runs to some extent on page ads.

Essentially, Monument Browser fills in the blanks that Edge is currently showing on Windows 10 Mobile and, until Microsoft pulls its finger out, is probably the better choice.

In an attempt to benchmark Monument Browser against Edge, both on the very latest versions under the Creators Update, I headed for some likely sites and pages. In each case, I timed things until the loading bar had finished and the page was responsive to swipes (except where stated):

Site/Time to completion (nearest sec) Monument Browser Edge
Headline story on The Verge 2.5 4
Headline story on 2 10
Headline story on 3 7
AAWP ‘Creators Update arriving’ news
(til all Disqus comments loaded)

Quite a dramatic difference, not least because Monument Browser is still based on the same Edge rendering engine as the built in Windows 10 browser. You can see this by trying both on - they score almost identically (452 versus 457), with the same warnings and notes.

The stripping out of resources that are (probably) not needed (including ads) makes a difference, plus the extra use of background processes to grab images even after the page has been rendered. Across all sites, I'd say that Monument Browser is roughly twice as fast as Edge, easily enough to be noticeable.

As usual, I wanted to give this major new tool a run through in screenshots:

Screenshot, Monument Browser

Note the acrylic transparency effect used in the pop-up menus - the background page shows through to add 'feel'...

Screenshot, Monument Browser

Trying out saving a page to PDF. The page is (virtually) scanned!...

Screenshot, Monument Browser

...and then saved to a PDF file on the disk of your choice, which is then shareable or useable how you like.

Screenshot, Monument Browser

The rest of the 'Save' options for web pages. Here I'm trying out the 'Save as HTML' feature, effectively saving the page for true offline reading....

Screenshot, Monument Browser

...all the while the page and its resources are downloading, you're kept fully informed. A page takes a while though and there's optimisation which could help here, I feel.

Screenshot, Monument Browser

The new 'Find in page' feature, giving you a persistent search bar near the bottom of the UI, so that you can search for the same string on multiple pages or sites if needed.

Screenshot, Monument Browser

Note the page annotation tool, bottom right...

Screenshot, Monument Browser

...this lets you scrawl on pages with your finger, with various tools available, following up by sharing the result via the service of your choice.

Screenshot, Monument Browser

The dual-window system is also unique, letting you browse two web pages at the same time!

Very impressive. Monument Browser still has its flaky moments, but it's well worth installing, upgrading to 'Pro' (to support development - it's only £1.40), and then sitting back and waiting for updates to make it even better. It's here in the Store.