What’s the difference between all these browsers? The short answer is, “Not much.” They all display websites well. They’re fast and mostly secure (except for those who browse where they should not). They offer similar features. What about differences?
Google vs. Apple
Mac users have many different browsers to choose from and while most are similar in functionality, there are distinct differences. Firefox, for example, is the fastest of the major browsers and has built-in privacy and security options not found on Safari or Chrome.
Safari is the most used Mac, iPhone, and iPad browser, of course, and Apple has added more options that kinda sorta mostly match the company’s new found love of privacy and security (even if the default search engine remains Google, the world’s most prolific abuser of privacy).
The reality, though, even with many dozens of browsers on the market, only a few are used by Mac or Windows users (Chrome dominates on Android and Chromebooks), and now that Microsoft has ditched its own browser development efforts, the browser world is led by three players, and dominated by one.
Greg Keiser put together a good review of the comparisons to Chrome and Chromium; a worthy read if you care about your browser.
Chromium is not only the name of a browser, but also of the open-source project that generates the source code used by Chrome. Google is the primary backer of Chromium – it kicked off the project when it launched Chrome in September 2008 – but because the code is open-source, others, including people not employed by Google, contribute to the Chromium project.
Chromium is a subset of Chrome, since Google bolts on other components and features to the former to craft the latter. Everything in Chromium is in Chrome, but not everything in Chrome is in Chromium.
Basically, the world of web browsers– for Mac users and other platforms– is made up of Google’s Chrome (based on Chromium), Apple’s Safari (based on WebKit), and Mozilla’s Firefox. In my experience, Firefox is faster than Safari, notably faster than Chrome or Chromium, and a better browser is privacy and security are important to you.
Some Microsoft enginneers think Mozilla should thrown in the towel and convert to Chromium. Others may think Apple would do the same. That would leave a single browser development project for all major platforms.
How is that lack of competition good for anyone?
I avoid Google’s Chrome because I care about security and privacy. I’m less concerned about Safari, but my day-to-day preference is Firefox. It grows on you. Firefox comes with hundreds of extensions (more than Safari), works well on every website I visit, plus it’s fast and has more privacy and security options than Safari.
Still, What If? is a consideration for a single browser platform.
Firefox program manager Chris Peterson:
Google, Apple, and Mozilla have different agendas. Eg, would Google accept patches from Apple or Mozilla to add tracking protection to Chromium? How long till Microsoft and Google disagree?