Search is alive and well on the interwebs these days. That means web browsers are still the go-to application to find something; Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or wherever. I see a few problems. Differentiation rules. No two browsers are alike. Some do not have basic features so they don’t make good alternatives to Google’s ubiquitous and maligned Chrome.
Bill Of Rights
The past month or so I’ve been on something of a hobby quest to find the perfect browser. Sorry. There isn’t one. Chrome was scratched off my list early because it tracks users more than any other browser. Sure, it can be customized to be more useful and less sinister but most browser users don’t bother even to put in an ad or tracker blocker.
Safari is fast and has a good set of features but Apple’s penchant for staying in bed with Google for money bothers me. Apple does not make certain features– delete history, for example– easy or automatic.
Firefox may be the fastest browser on Mac or Windows, and it comes with plenty of default settings to reduce trackers to nearly nothing, but– as with Safari– some of those options to increase privacy and security are not easily found without digging through preferences.
I find similar issues with many of the browser wannabes, including Vivaldi (no iOS version), Brave (no sync between mobile and desktop), Firefox Focus (no tabs), Opera Touch (great interface) and others.
What browser users need is a simple Bill of Rights; a list of basic features that all users can agree are worthwhile, beneficial, and easy to implement and control.
Tabs – this should be a no brainer. If you don’t want tabs, that’s OK. One click to turn them on or off.
Bookmarks – amazingly, not all browsers support bookmarks. Firefox Focus, I’m looking at you. Bookmarks should be a Bill of Rights standard and sync between devices.
Ad Blocker – Newer browsers have it on by default. Safari users need an extension to make it happen.
Analytics Blocker – Google is the most flagrant analytics gatherer on planet earth; many websites use their Analytics tracker to gather data about visitors. Mac360 does not.
Auto Delete History – this would seem to be an easy implementation; a simple click to delete browsing history after x-amount of time or when the browser closes.
Erase History – I consider this different than Auto Delete because it’s manual; Firefox Focus has a big Delete button that does the deed.
Settings Sync – This cannot be that difficult. The Browser Bill of Rights could have uniform settings for each browser than can be synchronized between browsers on different devices via iCloud or Dropbox or whatever other cloud service works on all devices.
Search Options – Safari on my Mac has four options; Google to DuckDuckGo. There are many other search engine options. The default search engine should be set by the user when the browser starts up the first time.
Certified Extensions – this would be a list, certified by each browser developer, of extensions which are deemed safe on any particular browser. Bad extensions are an ongoing problem; even Google is late to fix this.
That’s 10 items on my proposed Browser Bill of Rights. There could be others. The requirement for adoption would be a simple, one-click setting to reveal the items in each browser’s settings, and the various options for each. We need a Bill of Rights because too many major browser developers– Safari and Chrome, I’m looking at you– seem to care less about users than they do about revenue.