From The Infrequently Noted blog:

Apple’s iOS browser (Safari) and engine (WebKit) are uniquely under-powered. Consistent delays in the delivery of important features ensure the web can never be a credible alternative to its proprietary tools and App Store.

The author makes a lot of good points about where Webkit lags behind other browsers, and what its strengths are. The main thrust of the argument is that Apple won’t let other browsers onto iOS without being a branded interface wrapping around WebKit and that is harmful to users and the overall Open Web as there is no choice. Further, it puts a dent into Apple’s argument that people can always make a web app if they don’t want to participate in the App Store because the tech isn’t there to fully replace what many native apps do today.

Any time a tech company like Apple is insulated from competition, consumers suffer. iOS needs to open up their app store to alternative browsers as it will force Apple to compete more than they do right now. To their credit, they’ve done the bare minimum recently and allowed a non-Safari browser to be set as default, but they need to go the additional step and allow browsers to use their own engines. Not only would this be a win for the open web, but it would also increase competition and likely force Apple to invest more in their browser engine. There’s a lot they can differentiate on, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of web technologies advancing. I also want WebKit to be the best rendering engine out there because they focus on performance and security over chasing every single API, as that’s an area they can really hang their hat on. I personally feel like Safari on both the Mac and iOS has gotten worse in the past few years from a UX perspective (I’ll save that for another post) but better from a performance perspective. However, it would appear that WebKit as a standards-supporting platform has gotten worse. I hope they can find a good balance between the two.

This assessment can be true and it can also be true that the author is looking at the situation through Google-colored glasses. Google wants to push the web as much as possible because the web is more likely to have ads than an app would, so a more robust, “app-like” web means more opportunities for them to track and target you.

Progress Delayed Is Progress Denied

From The Infrequently Noted blog:

Apple’s iOS browser (Safari) and engine (WebKit) are uniquely under-powered. Consistent delays in the delivery of important features ensure the web can never be a credible alternative to its proprietary tools and App Store.

The author makes a lot of good points about where Webkit lags behind other browsers, and what its strengths are. The main thrust of the argument is that Apple won’t let other browsers onto iOS without being a branded interface wrapping around WebKit and that is harmful to users and the overall Open Web as there is no choice. Further, it puts a dent into Apple’s argument that people can always make a web app if they don’t want to participate in the App Store because the tech isn’t there to fully replace what many native apps do today.

Any time a tech company like Apple is insulated from competition, consumers suffer. iOS needs to open up their app store to alternative browsers as it will force Apple to compete more than they do right now. To their credit, they’ve done the bare minimum recently and allowed a non-Safari browser to be set as default, but they need to go the additional step and allow browsers to use their own engines. Not only would this be a win for the open web, but it would also increase competition and likely force Apple to invest more in their browser engine. There’s a lot they can differentiate on, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of web technologies advancing. I also want WebKit to be the best rendering engine out there because they focus on performance and security over chasing every single API, as that’s an area they can really hang their hat on. I personally feel like Safari on both the Mac and iOS has gotten worse in the past few years from a UX perspective (I’ll save that for another post) but better from a performance perspective. However, it would appear that WebKit as a standards-supporting platform has gotten worse. I hope they can find a good balance between the two.

This assessment can be true and it can also be true that the author is looking at the situation through Google-colored glasses. Google wants to push the web as much as possible because the web is more likely to have ads than an app would, so a more robust, “app-like” web means more opportunities for them to track and target you.

Power consumption of the worlds most popular websites calculated on different browsers:

TL;DR; If you’re a MacBook user, you’re losing an average of 1 hour of total battery life by using Chrome. Firefox is a little better, but Safari is the clear winner. You’ll want to use Safari if you want to get the most battery out of your laptop.

Can’t say I disagree with the findings. I use Chrome as my main browser most of the time but it is a resource hog compared to Safari, who has quietly pushed out some great updates over the past year (with more coming this fall).

Browser battery consumption

Power consumption of the worlds most popular websites calculated on different browsers:

TL;DR; If you’re a MacBook user, you’re losing an average of 1 hour of total battery life by using Chrome. Firefox is a little better, but Safari is the clear winner. You’ll want to use Safari if you want to get the most battery out of your laptop.

Can’t say I disagree with the findings. I use Chrome as my main browser most of the time but it is a resource hog compared to Safari, who has quietly pushed out some great updates over the past year (with more coming this fall).

I recently came across a really interesting article about Firefox 3’s upcoming UI refresh. That may sound boring to some, but to a interface snob like myself, knowing the Mozilla team is hard at work customizing the underlying XUL to allow for deeper system integration makes me a very happy person. One of the main problems with Firefox, especially on the Mac, is that it feels out of place, slow, and pretty ugly compared to other system applications. I’m a Camino user for this very reason, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about some of the fantastic extensions for the Firefox client (Camino, while based off of the same rendering engine as Firefox, does not support extensions). If they are able to modify the UI to match 10.5 (and Vista, XP, Ubuntu, etc) and speed things up a bit in the process, I think a lot of people who are Camino users might switch to Firefox – myself included. Developers are already working on making things like submit buttons, checkboxes and textareas respect the OS look and feel, so by the time version 3 ships, we could be in good shape.

Why is UI consistency important? From the author:

Fitting in to the visual appearance of the native operating system may seem like a reasonably obvious decision, but it certainly isn’t one that every cross-platform application or windowing toolkit makes. For instance RealPlayer (image) uses a custom appearance across operating systems, as do applications built using Java’s Swing windowing toolkit (image). Personally I think a unified cross platform UI results in applications that at best feel foreign everywhere, and at worst don’t even feel like real applications. 

He hits the nail on the head when he mentions that when using a default skin, at best the application looks out of place everywhere it goes. At worst, it looks like a flimsy Java app that nobody really wants to use. It makes the application easier to use and feel comfortable with when it fits into the operating system’s UI paradigm. This will be a big step in that direction.

I think it really depends on how far they go with it, and what parts they focus on, coupled with the limitations of Firefox as a non-native app. As long as we’re dealing with a cross-platform application, it’s pretty doubtful it will ever match the application (not rendering) speed of a Safari or Camino. But based on the few screenshots, it is looking promising. Firefox 3 is still a ways off, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Read more about the UI refresh here.

Refresh.

I recently came across a really interesting article about Firefox 3’s upcoming UI refresh. That may sound boring to some, but to a interface snob like myself, knowing the Mozilla team is hard at work customizing the underlying XUL to allow for deeper system integration makes me a very happy person. One of the main problems with […]

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