Interview: Hermit, the lite apps browser for Android

Hermit is a lite apps browser for Android, developed and maintained by Manas T., who joins us for an interview about his product, and tells us why he chose Localazy.

In this interview, we will talk about Hermit β€’ Lite Apps Browser for Android with its creator Manas T. from Chimbori.com.

🐚 What is Hermit? πŸ”—

🟦 Hi Manas, thank you for joining us! Could you please tell us, what is Hermit, exactly?

Hermit makes web apps appear like native apps on Android. It's designed with privacy in mind; many native Android apps these days incorporate all sorts of trackers that detect and upload personal information to third parties. There are no system-wide controls on app-based tracking. In addition, native apps are allowed to run in the background and collect information that way as well.

🟦 Why should users choose Hermit over native apps?

Web apps are much safer, especially with a Content Blocker that can stop all such trackers and background activity. Instead of using a regular browser, you can use Hermit; a browser designed explicitly for Lite Apps, Β which provides deep integration with Android.

Hermit Lite Apps look and work like native Android apps. E.g., when you try to open a link for an app that already exists, other browsers open a new tab each time, while Hermit will bring up the already-opened Lite App in its own separate window.

Hermit also offers the Sandbox feature, where you can have multiple browser profiles active simultaneously with different accounts in each profile.

This way, you can separate your Work account from your Personal account, use multiple social accounts at the same time, and also have better privacy because each sandbox is entirely separate from all the others.

🟦 Can you think of example use cases when the lite app is far better than the in-browser version?

Absolutely!

  • Any website that you use pretty often is a good candidate for a Lite App in Hermit. When you open links, they will directly open Hermit instead of your default browser.
  • Sites where you need to log in are great candidates for Lite Apps because, in Hermit, you can create separate profiles & use multiple accounts at the same time.
  • Hermit can help protect you from websites that are notorious for tracking you. Sometimes you may have no alternative but to use these apps to keep in touch with friends or family, but now you can do it without compromising your own safety and privacy.

🟦 That sounds promising; who are typical users of Hermit?

Power users who want to use Web Apps as first-class citizens on Android. Most of our users are privacy-conscious advanced users who know and understand how the modern web can be a bad experience, privacy-wise.

As you know, Hermit itself has absolutely no advertising or personal information tracking in the app itself, and the product is built based on support from user purchases. Our users prefer this business model to buy the app directly from us instead of expecting a free app monetized via other means.

🟦 How exactly does Hermit work? Is it like a catalog of apps, or you can convert almost any web app into a native-like experience?

Both! For convenience, we provide a curated library of Lite Apps. For many of these apps, we have hand-customized the settings to give the best experience. E.g., Hermit supports searching across a site by integrating the website's search functionality: all our Library Lite Apps include this configuration in it when you install them from the Library.

But of course, there are billions and billions of websites out there that would benefit from Hermit, so you can create any Lite App simply by typing the URL or search query.

🟦 What is Hermit β€’ Lite Apps Browser's unique value proposition that sets it apart from its competitors? In which fields are you innovating?

Here are a few features that are unique to Hermit:

  • Sandboxed Containers
  • Per-Site Settings
  • Notifications from RSS and Atom feeds
  • Web Monitors
  • Sharing from anywhere directly to a Web App

Features in Hermit that other browsers apps also have

  • Reader mode
  • Dark mode
  • Full-screen mode
  • Bookmarklets / Scriptlets support
  • Integrated Ad Blocker
  • Malware Blocker

For more details, you can look at this handy comparison chart comparing Hermit to other browsers.

πŸ›‹οΈ Talking about business πŸ”—

🟦 What is the end goal for Hermit? What's your vision?

The best-case scenario would be to replace traditional browsers for everything except one-off links. 😎 But right now, the goal is to sustain the ongoing revenue and becoming the best-in-class product in our niche.

🟦 How is your product funded? Do you have investors?

We are currently self-funded, and there are no plans to apply for funding. We want to continue to be self-funded for the foreseeable future.

🟦 What are the biggest risks & challenges for Hermit?

Several million users have downloaded Hermit over the last six years. A larger competitor or platform implementing all core features of our app as part of the OS or OEM Android distribution would probably hurt our business. And we've always thought that the manufacturers could bake the features we offer into a browser. We would, in fact, encourage that because our mutual users would see immediate benefits with improved privacy. It seems less and less likely, though.

🟦 If you could start again with Hermit, what would you do differently from today's perspective?

Invest early in user education to inform users of its abilities and benefits.

🟦 What are the next steps and plans for Hermit?

Keep building new features, trimming away unused features, etc.

🟦 Do you think the drive for entrepreneurship is something people are born with or not, or is it something that can be taught?

Easily taught but needs to be channeled and mentored. The person should have the innate desire to pursue their passion.

🟦 What is your main driver that motivates you to keep taking on your business ventures? And: Did your motives change over the years?

Personal enjoyment at tackling hard technical problems as a side project, apart from my day job.

🟦 What do you think – how will your industry look like in about 10 years from now?

Not much different from today, but hoping for fewer gatekeepers and more entrepreneurs.

🟦 Do you have any other projects worth mentioning?

We have a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline, and we plan to share more soon! At this time, there's nothing new to announce.

🚩 Why Localazy? πŸ”—

🟦 What is your motivation for localization? Why did you choose Localazy?

Our users come from all over the world. We want to reach them in their language, so they can make the most use of our app.

Not only is localization good for business, but it's also important to make innovative new applications available to all our users around the world.

Localazy has been a fantastic upgrade from OneSky. It's easy, usable, and from a productivity perspective, it is a huge, huge improvement.

And ShareTM is a game-changer that allows us to get translations immediately. Also, with our previous localization platform, we had to wait until releasing a new version before any newly translated strings were available to users.

Localazy ShareTM is a community-based pro-active translation memory that translates portion of your project automatically to new languages.

🟦 Manas, thank you very much for your time and good luck!

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