16 votes

The state of web browsers - Late 2018 edition

11 comments

  1. [8]
    emdash
    Link
    In response to the author re: Safari... what's wrong with Safari exactly? Preface: I am about as deep as you can get into the Apple ecosystem, so my opinion is certainly biased. Here's why I use...

    In response to the author re: Safari... what's wrong with Safari exactly? Preface: I am about as deep as you can get into the Apple ecosystem, so my opinion is certainly biased. Here's why I use Safari:

    • Safari is the most power efficient browser on macOS. The competition isn't even close.
    • Safari is the most aggressive privacy-first browser currently available. It's the only browser that implements advanced tracking protection (via ML). It's the only browser which actively employs anti-fingerprinting techniques (hell, Safari 12 on 10.14 doesn't even allow the loading of local fonts from your system).
    • Safari ships first a surprising amount of the time: prefers-dark-mode has already hit Technology Preview, and that's from Media Queries Level 5, which is currently a draft. It was also the first browser to ship backdrop-visibility.
    • Safari & Chrome both support an approximately equal number of bleeding edge features.
    • Keychain integration for passwords & credit cards from iOS and macOS.
    • Painstakingly-good password generation tools.
    • Acceptably usable dev tools. It's not Chrome dev tools, but neither Chrome nor Safari's dev tools tells you what font your font-stack is actually using. That distinction goes to Firefox.

    The "Safari is junk" talking point is totally overblown.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Are you a web developer, or is this just from a user perspective? Safari has far more bugs, incompatibilities, and missing features than the other browsers in my experience, but you won't...

      Are you a web developer, or is this just from a user perspective? Safari has far more bugs, incompatibilities, and missing features than the other browsers in my experience, but you won't necessarily see any of that as a user because the site developers have already put in all the extra effort to work around them for you.

      11 votes
      1. emdash
        Link Parent
        Dev, primarily web. Safari is my primary choice for development, even. Can't say I've seen these bugs everyone seems to be having. Then again I'm not exactly building a Discord clone or regex101....

        Dev, primarily web. Safari is my primary choice for development, even. Can't say I've seen these bugs everyone seems to be having. Then again I'm not exactly building a Discord clone or regex101.

        I also test in both Chrome & Firefox.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      Wes
      Link Parent
      I have trouble believing that's true... Every time I go to use a relatively recent-feature, Safari and IE are the only browsers that don't support it. They've finally come around on Service...

      Safari & Chrome both support an approximately equal number of bleeding edge features.

      I have trouble believing that's true... Every time I go to use a relatively recent-feature, Safari and IE are the only browsers that don't support it. They've finally come around on Service Workers at least.

      neither Chrome nor Safari's dev tools tells you what font your font-stack is actually using.

      It should be visible under Elements > Computed in Chrome's dev tools. Not the best interface though, I'll grant you.

      9 votes
      1. emdash
        Link Parent
        I mean, the link is right there for you to click :). Granted, caniuse.com might not be a exhaustive list of all features, but it should have >90% of them, especially as it's crowdsourced and...

        I have trouble believing that's true...

        I mean, the link is right there for you to click :). Granted, caniuse.com might not be a exhaustive list of all features, but it should have >90% of them, especially as it's crowdsourced and available on GitHub.

    3. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      Since I have to support medical application portal access and VDI tools like VMWare Horizon and Citrix, I can tell you that Safari is the bane of my existence. I routinely have to tell physicians...

      Since I have to support medical application portal access and VDI tools like VMWare Horizon and Citrix, I can tell you that Safari is the bane of my existence. I routinely have to tell physicians to change to Chrome or Firefox on Mac to ensure they have access.

      Safari continues to lag behind on support for security standards updates (TLS, 2-factor authentication protocols). I can't recommend it when it has so many idiosyncracies (and yes, it's scarcely proper to speak of "web standards").

      4 votes
    4. [2]
      JuniperMonkeys
      Link Parent
      I agree with your points (with the caveat that, since it sounds like the author is probably writing from a cross-platform perspective, things like Keychain and Apple Pay are less useful). However:...

      I agree with your points (with the caveat that, since it sounds like the author is probably writing from a cross-platform perspective, things like Keychain and Apple Pay are less useful). However:

      Safari is the most power efficient browser on macOS. The competition isn't even close.

      The author of the linked article didn't comment on efficiency, but a good point to make (given its market share) is that Chrome is curiously inefficient regardless of platform, versus Safari, Edge, or the new Firefox. I know they've improved it since 2016, but it remains equally adept at killing a MacBook or Thinkpad.

      3 votes
      1. Heichou
        Link Parent
        Chrome's inefficiency is due to it storing every tab and extension as a separate process, right? It eats RAM like a motherfucker

        Chrome's inefficiency is due to it storing every tab and extension as a separate process, right? It eats RAM like a motherfucker

  2. [3]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    I am just going to steal sstangl's comment off Hacker News and post it here, because it sums up my (hopeful) expectations for the future: Am I convinced that Chrome is actually ever going to lose...

    I am just going to steal sstangl's comment off Hacker News and post it here, because it sums up my (hopeful) expectations for the future:

    As a Mozilla employee, speaking from my own limited perspective, it seems the company as a whole broadly agrees with this analysis even if it isn't vocalized quite this succinctly. Chrome started out being force-installed alongside Flash, and there is no solution to the bundling problem -- the problem is even larger in scale than the article suggests because of Chromebooks affecting desktop. People who use Firefox in the future will increasingly be people who do so consciously, presumably because they view Mozilla as helping them protect their privacy. Chrome is and will continue to be the default.

    Eventually, Google will do something that is an abuse of their monopoly power. Either there will eventually be a privacy/creepiness fiasco, or Google will attempt to use Chrome as leverage to squeeze a competitor out of a market.

    When that happens, Mozilla will be well-positioned as an alternative. The path forward in this view would look more like Mozilla as a constellation of disaffected companies and users attempting to free themselves from Google. It won't look like Mozilla on the side doing something by itself. We will largely be defined in opposition to Google.

    The article correctly points out that a wiser Microsoft could have gotten a head-start on this inevitability by partnering with us early.

    Am I convinced that Chrome is actually ever going to lose dominance? No, not necessarily. I think the monoculture has a chance to stay, I think Gecko and SpiderMonkey could very easily fade off, I think Mozilla could collapse, and I think that Google, Chrome, Blink, and V8 could be the sole options for using a web browser in the future, but I hope that doesn't happen.

    I really wish Microsoft would have looked at Visual Studio Code's success before deciding that killing Edge was the right move. Either way, hopefully they will open up Edge's code eventually, since they're obviously not going to be using it for much longer.

    Also, an excellent point I caught in this article, is how hard Apple is dropping the ball at having an actual, competitive web browser. They definitely have the resources, but I guess Safari isn't an important enough part of their operation.

    6 votes
    1. frickindeal
      Link Parent
      I've read that Apple doesn't care about desktop because iOS sales are such a huge part of their business, with MacBook and iMac sales being meager in comparison. Apple makes more from iTunes and...

      I've read that Apple doesn't care about desktop because iOS sales are such a huge part of their business, with MacBook and iMac sales being meager in comparison. Apple makes more from iTunes and iCloud than they do from desktop. And mobile Safari is actually a fantastic browser, very well integrated into the rest of iOS, so they've done their work there.

      2 votes
    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Ironically, VS Code is an Electron application.

      Visual Studio Code's success before deciding that killing Edge was the right move

      Ironically, VS Code is an Electron application.

      1 vote