Someone said we live in the Golden Age of web browsers. I agree. Every major and many minor browsers are just excellent. Fast. Render pages well. Store passwords. Block ads. Plenty of useful add-ons. As the world turns today the most used browser is Google’s Chrome, followed by Apple’s Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and a growing host of also rans.
Back in the day, Mozilla’s Firefox was the second most used browser. Google introduced Chrome, which now runs and almost dominates on every platform but iOS and macOS. Safari dominates on macOS and iOS, and the little browser that could fell into disrepair. That was then and this is now and Firefox is back with a better browser experience which probably is too little too late.
The latest Firefox is called Quantum and I’ve been using it for a couple of months. Different browsers perform better on different tests and benchmarks but for my experienced eyeballs, Firefox Quantum is visibly faster than Safari or Chrome on a Mac.
Visually, most browsers have a similar look and Firefox does not blaze any new ground with aesthetics.
Firefox has the standard array of visible options; tabs, home page, navigation arrows, bookmark sync, auto fill, password management, and others, including private browsing, tracker protection, but also options to take browser screenshots, add webpages to Pocket, change to a few themes, and add most of the famous array of Firefox extensions for added functionality.
The claim to fame in the latest Firefox versions is sheer speed and improve privacy and security. Try it out by loading up a few websites on Safari or Chrome and then load the same sites on Firefox. It’s snappy. I thought that time honored meme had been put away, but the past year we’ve seen Safari become faster, Firefox take the speed crown, and Google’s own Chrome become both a battery hog with slug-like performance.
Did I mention battery life?
Firefox claims to be 30-percent lighter than Chrome, doesn’t get as bogged down when opening dozens of tabs, and, at least in my usage on a MacBook Pro, does not use as much battery life as Chrome.
As good as Firefox is these days I have a couple of issues. The first is privacy and security. Firefox needs a built-in ad blocker and more tracker blocker tools. Tracking is so prevalent on websites these days that it has reached the point of stalking. Add to that the built-in VPN (virtual private network) available in Opera’s latest browser and you get a one-two punch that is user oriented and not advertiser oriented.
The second issue is Firefox default search engine. It’s back to Google which pays Mozilla a few hundred million dollars a year for the privilege. Previously, it was Yahoo! but I’ve never found Yahoo! or Bing search or DuckDuckGo to be as useful as Google searches. With Google as the default search engine– as it is on Safari– that means your privacy is under assault as it always was, if not more so.
If speed and elegance is your game, Firefox is the name, but since Google pays most of the bills at Mozilla, it’s difficult for the browser publisher to pump up the privacy and security the way it should. Tracking is less of an issue for readers of McSolo as my site does not have ad trackers, analytics trackers, or even a cookie.
No trackers. That’s the way it should be.