|Original author(s)||UCWeb Inc.|
|Operating system||iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows RT, S60, J2ME, Windows CE, Microsoft Windows, MTK, Tizen, Bada, BREW|
|Available in||Chinese, English, Urdu, Bangla, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Russian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi|
UC Browser is a web browser developed by the Chinese mobile Internet company UCWeb, which is in turn owned by the Alibaba Group. As of February 2018 it is the third most popular mobile browser in the world by market share, after Google Chrome and Safari. Originally launched in April 2004 as a J2ME-only application, it is available on a number of platforms including Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Java ME, Symbian, Windows Phone and Microsoft Windows.
The browser uses cloud acceleration and data compression technology. UC Browser's servers act as a proxy which compresses and renders the data of web pages before sending it to users. This process helps to load web content faster. The browser can adapt to some network environments and support multi-file format downloading. In addition, UC Browser has HTML5 web app and cloud syncing features. It has the feature of "fast download" which increases the downloading speed using multiple thread connection download technique.
UC Browser is available on several smartphone and feature phone platforms, but Android mobile operating system represents the largest user base for the company, with 300 million of its 500 million total.
UC+: HTML5, WebApp and add-ons
In July 2013, UCWeb announced the UC+ Open Platform. The platform consists of a WebApp store, an add-on platform and an Application Bookmark Platform. It went live with the launch of UC Browser v9.2 for Android.
Developers can use an SDK provided to create programs that can be called on in different usage scenarios. Users can download them from the browser's add-on panel to get a more personalized internet browsing experience, like the sharing to SNS, webpage translation, augmented reality, voice control, etc. The Application Bookmark Platform allows partner websites to put up a QR code on UC Browser for users to scan the code and add the webpage to their bookmarks. The UC WebApp Center was one of the first for mobile WebApps in China.
The browser supports simultaneous downloads and includes a download manager, including pages for offline reading. It supports pause-and-resume downloads. The new version of download manager has improved features to solve problems while downloading, such as an intermittent internet connection and mislabeled files. The download process will continue even after the app is closed and will also automatically resume if the download is interrupted for some reason. The download manager automatically sorts downloaded files according to their type and places them in the respective folders.
Data compression reduces data consumption while users are browsing. Since 2006, UC Browser has been performing more compression and rendering works on its servers, which is similar to the operation of a thin client. UC Browser is the only modern browser lacking support for WOFF2 and Brotli compression.
Privacy and security
Research has found that UC Browser is unsecure, and it has privacy issues. The UC Browser has many vulnerabilities. According to Qualys SSL Lab test and High-Tech Bridge's SSL/TLS Security Report; Logjam, FREAK and POODLE vulnerabilities are found in UC Browser. UC Browser uses an outdated RC4 cipher cryptography with outdated SSL 3 or even SSL 2 protocol which has many security flaws.
In 2015 it was revealed as part of the Snowden leaks that UC Browser leaks sensitive IMSI, IMEI, MSISDN data, Android ID, MAC address and users Geo-location & Wi-Fi related data without any encryption; which was used by intelligence agencies to track users. In May 2015, Citizen Lab published news about leaking of privacy details of several UC Browser users. The organization tested two versions of UC Browser, one in English and the other in Chinese. In May 2015, documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) had identified UC Browsers as a security weak point. Its widespread use in China, India and Indonesia made it particularly attractive to ASD. The documents revealed that in cooperation with its Five Eyes partners, ASD hacked the UC Browser and infected smartphones with spyware. The ASD declined to comment in relation to the revelations.
In 2016, the Citizen Lab reported about major security and privacy issues in the English language and Chinese language editions of the Android version of UC Browser. The report criticized the transmission of personally identifiable information to various commercial analytics tools and the transmission of user search queries without encryption. They also managed to bypass the encryption of UC Browser accusing them of using non-effective encryption systems in transmitting personally identifiable subscriber data, mobile device identifiers and user geo-location data.
In May-June 2016, Alibaba group provided the Citizen Lab with updated versions of UC Browser in order to verify their security fixes to these issues. The subsequent update published by the Citizen Lab indicated that, not all of the previously identified data leaks and privacy breaches had been fixed in UC Browser.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) in India is currently investigating this privacy breach by Alibaba-owned UC Browser. It has been alleged that the second most used browser in India has been sending user data to Chinese servers and that it retains control over a user's device DNS even after the browser is deleted.
The matter, first highlighted through findings of University of Toronto, is now being looked into by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Hyderabad. It is doing a technical investigation into the allegations made in the University of Toronto report which had claimed "several major privacy and security vulnerabilities that would seriously expose users of UC Browser to surveillance and other privacy violations".
Android represents the largest user-base for the browser, with 300 million of its 500 million total on Google's mobile OS. There are two versions of UC Browser available on the Google Play, including UC Browser for Android and UC Browser Mini for Android. It was once removed from play store but after one week it reappeared.
UC Browser for iOS was first introduced in 2010. Now, there are two versions of UC Browsers available on App Store, which are UC Browser+ for iPhone and UC Browser+ HD for iPad.
UC Browser relaunched its original version in 2016, featured its ads block function.
Latest version is 11.2.1.
UC Browser was released for llWindows Phone in early 2012, and it is now the most downloaded third-party web browser on that operating system. Its popular features include Download, Incognito Browsing and Wi-Fi Sharing.
The company announced its "Going Global" strategy in 2012. By providing different versions for English, Russian, Indonesian, Vietnamese markets and more, the company hopes to better serve its growing international user base. The company is taking advantage of its own server networks which enable the browser to deliver customized contents to users all around the world. Besides the technical issues, the company refers to local designers and experts to accommodate local cultures and tastes, according to CEO Yongfu Yu. The logo of UC Browser was redesigned in December 2012, from a cute cartoon squirrel to a more abstract and stylized icon that's more in line with American designs.
UCWeb customized its browser for Vodafone's Indian customers in May 2013.
In May 2013, UCWeb announced a partnership with Trend Micro. Under the agreement, both companies will work to provide mobile web safety assessments in the browser.
In October 2012, UC Browser topped Opera in Google Play's free Android app download category in India for the first time. According to a third-party web analytics firm, StatCounter, UC Browser surpassed Opera as India's top mobile browser with 32.82 percent of the market share to Opera's 26.91 percent.
Google Zeitgeist 2013 showed that the "Most Searched Mobile Apps" in India were dominated by messaging and browsing apps, with WhatsApp and UC Browser topping the rankings for the most searches on mobile in 2013.
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by Experts: Jakub Dalek (lead), Katie Kleemola (lead), Adam Senft (lead), Christopher Parsons, Andrew Hilts, Sarah McKune, Jason Q. Ng, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, John Scott-Railton, Ronald Deibert
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