Like one of the Facebook app alternatives we’ve been looking at recently, Hermit basically offers supercharged Chrome Custom tabs, meaning that it takes any website and gives it a nice wrapper, making it appear more like an app. An icon is added to your home screen, and the Lite App shows up in your app drawer. Essentially, it behaves just like a normal app, but it dispenses with many of the, frequently unnecessary, additions and settings crammed into actual official apps.
Hermit provides a decent library of sites that you can quickly create apps for, and new ones are being added with each update, but you can also create your own Lite App using any website URL.
One of the main advantages besides saving battery life is that these Lite Apps really are light. The only space they occupy on your phone is the space needed for the icon, i.e. practically none. The Hermit app itself is under 1 MB.
You can set sync frequencies manually for your Lite Apps, with anything from every five minutes to once a week being an option. This, in particular, could save you a load of battery, as some apps (cough, Facebook) are guilty of frequently waking your device up to check for notifications and updates, cutting into your battery considerably. And even if you choose to use the five-minute sync frequency, Hermit uses battery-saving Android APIs, so it’s never going to be as bad news for your battery as the Facebook app would be doing the same thing.
Why wouldn’t I just use a Chrome shortcut?
By using Hermit, third-party cookies are avoided. If you go on Facebook through Hermit, for example, it won’t be able to track your browser activity. Basically, it increases your privacy by blocking activity tracking. Plus there are more customization options in Hermit
What else does Hermit do?
You can not only receive notifications from the Lite Apps you make, but you can customize them to all hell, too. You can decide what icon appears in the notification, what sound, if any, is played, and what pattern of vibration your phone uses to notify you.
There are also autoconfiguration options for Facebook and Twitter, offering a one-press setup that functions fine for the vast majority of users, but, of course, the manual configuration options remain available, if you prefer those.
You can also choose what permissions are afforded each website, so you can turn location, photos and videos, and camera and microphone permissions on or off to your liking. And if you share a photo or video, or your location, through a Hermit Lite app, that information is given once, for that purpose, and then access is closed off again, meaning your location and media can’t be accessed freely.
Continuing on the customization front, Hermit lets you choose a two-tone color combination for your Lite Apps, so you can make everything look as pretty, or as hideous, as you like.
What’s the catch?
There honestly isn’t one, really. To my mind, at least, this is a way better alternative to so many clumsily or maliciously made apps you might have installed. In my time using it, Hermit has never consumed more than one percent of my battery, and I have it running eight Lite Apps. It’s super smooth and fast. You can set it up so notification from multiple news sites come in silently and under a single icon. It’s cleaner, more cohesive, less resource-intensive and prettier.
The free version affords you two Lite Apps with full premium feature freedom, but if you pay just under US$5 you get all of it for every Lite App. That means bookmarks; custom themes; full screen, frameless and desktop modes; and all those granular permission and privacy controls.
The developers are working hard to take user requests and concerns into account and you can follow Hermit developer chimbori on Reddit to see what’s going on and ask him any questions or make suggestions for improvements.