Most computer users take browsers for granted, but that’s not how it should be, especially if you want the best possible user experience without comprising on privacy. This post helps you evaluate your options so that you can the browser that’s best for you.
The internet browser war is just as strong as ever, though one competitor has thrown in the towel — Internet Explorer. Once the leader of the pack, Internet Explorer is set to retire forever in June, 2022.
All the same, users have many options to choose from, although Google dominates the browser landscape right now. The fact that Google serves far more content compared to others surely helps Chrome to stay ahead of other browsers. Estimate suggests Google serves over 60% the desktop browser market. Mobile users, too, use it far more often than other browsers. With Chrome being the favorite browser of most users, it’s hardly surprising that the majority of other browsers try to use Chrome-rending code. Firefox, however, is an exception.
Chrome Leads the Pack
When it comes to usage, Chrome beats other browsers to the punch, except on Apple devices. Even so, it doesn’t lead by every measure, nor is it ahead by number of features. Opera, Safari, Edge, and Firefox all possess capabilities you will not find in Google’s Chrome. This doesn’t mean Chrome is an outstanding software, because it is. However, at the same time, you should be aware of the facts that worthy alternatives are available.
So, what are the most important requirements in a browser for today’s users? Unsurprisingly, compatibility and speed remain the top requirements. Browsing privacy and security also are top concerns for users when it comes to choosing a browser. With Smartphones becoming a part of our daily lives, linkage between your phone and desktop browser is a feature that most users desire. Indeed, several internet browsers make it seemingly easy for you to bookmark and share web pages between devices.
HTML5test remains the most-accepted measure of standards compatibility, with the highest possible score being 555. Chrome continues to lead on this front, with an unmatchable score of 528. Opera, Edge, and other Chromium-coded web browsers are just a few steps behind it. Firefox, on the other hand, has a score of 491 while Safari receive manages 469.
To test the speed, we used the JetStream benchark, regarded by most experts as the most complete performance benchmark for web browsers. Chrome is speediest browser for Windows 10, whereas Safari wins the battle on macOS.
Privacy is Important
Some of the main differentiators today include privacy, convenience features, customizations, start-page tools, mobile integration, and tab tools. All the top browsers are capable for remembering your passwords and synching them (of course, in the encrypted form) between devices. In addition, they can sync your bookmarks and browsing history between laptops, desktops, and smartphones and other mobile devices. By default, Chrome signs you up into popular Google services, such as YouTube and Gmail. While a useful and time-saving feature, some users nevertheless think this is presumptuous.
Those who hold their privacy paramount use VPNs to prevent their ISPs and other meddling entities from finding out their browsing activities. At present, only Opera comes with an inbuilt VPN. With Firefox, you will need to pay a fee to use this feature. That said, Firefox has a decent privacy profile. You can use it in the privacy mode to do away with cookies and a browsing session’s history. A private session also hides the browsing activities from various 3rd parties tracking websites.
Recently, Firefox rolled out DNS over HTTPS. This provides end-to-end encryption and also extends privacy, since a network administrator or your ISP cannot easily intercept your DNS traffic. Firefox also has fingerprint protection, which makes it harder for trackers to identify you on the basis of your software and hardware setup. Apart from Firefox, Safari and Edge also offer this feature.
Tools and Goodies
For many users, browsing tools can be an important factor — and understandably so. These tools can considerably enhance your browsing experience. For instance, Reading Mode removes clutter, like videos and ads, from web pages, which makes content reading easier. Another useful tool is the Share button. Given the popular of social media channels, this tool is almost a must-have convenience.
Some web browsers include unique tools. For example, Opera comes with an inbuilt cryptocurrency wallet. Another of its salient feature of is Speed Dial. It comprises of pinned tiles on the home screen with a toolbar that allows you to quickly assess frequently used services like WhatsApp.
When it comes to voice-reading of web pages, Microsoft Edge is a clear winner. Other useful features included in Microsoft Edge include robust privacy settings and customizable homepage. With Firefox, you can easily save an interesting page or video by clicking the Pocket button. It also offers a unique multi-account containers extension, which allows you to wrangle multiple social or email accounts. Firefox, Opera, and Edge all offer the screenshot tool, which makes it easier to save an image of the entire or parts of a webpage.
Google Chrome is one web browser that needs no introduction. After all, it is the most popular web browser by a country mile. Attractively designed, Chrome is known for loading pages speedily. Given its popularity, it’s not surprising that most websites’ code target it. As a result of which, compatibility is rarely (if ever at all) an issue.
Speed-wise, Chrome tops the charts. However, it uses more RAM than some other web browsers, but that is partially because it preloads content to speed up web page loading.
If you use Google Chrome, you won’t see those potentially-irritating messages that urge you to use Chrome every time you open YouTube, Gmail, Google News, and so on. Chrome is very robust security-wise, but like any other piece of software, bugs can happen. For this reason, it is important you always stay updated.
Chrome, however, is no longer the most feature-rich browser. It doesn’t offer several advanced browsing features one finds in other browsers. For example, it has no inbuilt VPN, nor does it include a cryptocurrency locker, a reading mode, a Share button, or a screenshot tool. While the absence of the reading mode might make a lot of sense for Google, since it get paid for web ads. However, some users may prefer the reading mode which hides these ads.
Some time back, Google announced the removal of API function, which allows ad-blockers to completely block ads. After this announcement, came another in which it revealed new standards for enhancing privacy of the internet users, termed Privacy Sandbox. It caters to user privacy as well as ad targeting. The inbuilt ad blocking option in Chrome, however, is not only weak but is also buried under many layers of setting. When you turn it on, it will only block those ads which Google regards as intrusive. It will not block all ads.
The mobile chrome version is extremely capable. It offers synching of settings, bookmarks, and passwords. It also includes the voice input feature with Google search.
One of the most unique features of Mozilla Firefox is its multi-account containers. It helps you to easily wrangle multiple social or email accounts. Its Pocket button is another useful feature, allowing you save a web page for later viewing. You can view the saved pages with just a single click. On top of all this, you also have the option of The Reader View — a feature conspicuously absent in Chrome. When you turn it on, the browser will de-clutter a page by removing ads, buttons, background videos, and images. This allows you to read the web page content without any distractions. Like other top browsers, Firefox is very customizable. You can arrange toolbar buttons in different ways and have a large selection of Theme add-ons to choose from.
Mozilla Firefox also offers VPN as a paid extra. You can also use its comprehensive password-management service — Lockwise — by paying a small fee. It generates complex passwords, syncs them between multiple devices, and secures all these details under a very complex master password.
Safari, which is the default browser on Apple devices, is a top choice, although there are some non-standard elements in its interface. Safari introduced the reading mode before other browsers. While Apple states it’s committed to fingerprinting protection, which makes it harder for trackers to identify you through the system specs, other browsers offer better protection. If you are using a Mac and an iPhone, using Safari as your default browser makes sense. With the Handoff feature, you can seamlessly continue browsing sessions between devices.
While Opera has considerably fewer users than other web-browsers mentioned in this list, it has several novel features. If you are a strong support of VPN, Opera is definitely worth considering. It offers better privacy than other browsers, thanks to an inbuilt VPN (although, actually it is an encrypted proxy server). When it comes to speed and compatibility, Opera receives top marks. You are not likely to encounter compatibility issues if you use Opera. Its performance is also quite fast.
Opera also boasts an inbuilt ad blocker. This feature also blocks crypto-mining trackers and scripts. In fact, Opera was the first one to include crypto-mining protection. Other notable features are its new-tab page, Speed Dial, and quick-access sidebar. It also includes a cryptocurrency wallet. The latter supports Tron and Bitcoin.