Browser Watch, March 2017
Welcome to another edition of Browser Watch, the regular feature that runs down the latest news and developments among all the most popular and up-and-coming browsers available. Whether you’re a designer, developer or both, you’ll always be kept up to date on everything that’s going in the browser world.
Material Design Extensions Page Part of Latest Chrome Development Release
Google Chrome’s extensions page hasn’t been altered in a while, but that’s recently changed. In essence, the extensions page received a grid-based redesign, so users have an easier time being able to spot at a glance what the extensions have been enabled. Tabs on the left side are for Chrome apps and extensions; the items inside can now be either enabled or disabled courtesy of a Material Design-inspired on/off toggle. To see the extensions page, users will have to activate a flag to see it inside the development build.
Apple Increasing Malware Protection on Chrome for macOS
In a bid to improve security, Apple is improving protection against malware in Chrome; this malware preys on macOS devices on the web. Apple has a two-part plan to combat this malware against macOS users. First, the company recently released the Chrome Settings API for Mac, which came with Chrome 56. Second, Apple is relying on Google’s Safe Browsing Technology to show in-browser alerts when a user wants to visit a known website with questionable security.
Safari Technology Preview 25 Released
Apple has released Safari Technology Preview 25 that comes with bug fixes and improvements to known features. At the one-year anniversary mark, Safari Technology Preview’s latest version includes improvements to:
- Resource Timing
- User Timing
- Web API
- Web Inspector
One of the biggest changes is that Resource Timing is now going to be available by default.
(Safari Technology Preview was intended by Apple to be a place where it could experiment with and test certain features that could eventually be introduced in future, wide releases of Safari.)
Komando.com Says Unheard of Dolphin Browser Rivals Chrome and Firefox
Even if you’re using popular browsers’ mobile versions, chances are that they still take a backseat to their desktop versions when it comes to performance. According to a piece on Komando.com, the Dolphin browser gives both Chrome and Firefox a run for their money when it comes to a mobile-browsing experience. Unlike all other browsers, the Dolphin was specifically designed from its inception to tweak the user experience during mobile browsing.
Apple Safari…Going the Way of Internet Explorer?
While Apple still supports its browser—unlike Internet Explorer, on which Microsoft pulled the plug on a few years ago—reports indicate that Safari is shedding users at an alarming rate. According to a recent report, Safari has lost a significant 19% of its users in only the past two years, which isn’t good if Apple wants Safari to remain competitive with Chrome, Firefox and even upstarts like Vivaldi.
Firefox Debuts Support for WebAssembly
Mozilla’s latest update, Firefox 52, is a one-of-a-kind browser: It is the first browser to support something called WebAssembly, an burgeoning standard that saw its roots in a Mozilla research project. WebAssembly should please video-game fans, as it allows sophisticated apps, such as games, to run faster than ever before inside a web browser. WebAssembly is expected to enable apps that have typically been too complicated to properly run in browsers. That would include 3D video games and scientific visualization, among others.
Brave, the Ad-Blocking Browser, Now Syncs Between Desktops
The new browser from ex-Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is known for ad-blocking, but now, it’s also one step closer to having another feature that virtually all browsers offer as standard: the ability to sync between computers. Note that users still won’t be able to sync between all devices (read: mobile)—just between desktops. This should help drive a few more users to Brave, as sync support is at least a promising step in the right direction (mobile sync is apparently in the works).
Opera Browser and Instant Page Loading
Instant page loading sounds intriguing, you have to admit. That’s just what’s new in Opera’s latest release, Opera 43. Here’s how instant page loading works: It uses predictive technology to start to load a site in the background prior to the user finishing putting the entire URL into the address bar. This version of Opera is also the fastest yet. This is all part of Opera’s goal to make the browser smarter over time by understanding what sites are attached to URL inputs.
Security Flaw in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer?
This time, it’s Google warning users about a serious security flaw in both Edge and Internet Explorer. The security problem pertains to how both of the browsers end up formatting webpages. Ivan Fratric, a well-known Google researcher, initially discovered the flaw late last year, but, unfortunately, Microsoft has not yet patched it. Further, the company hasn’t announced when it’s going to patch the flaw (if at all), thereby leaving millions of users around the globe vulnerable.
Chrome Is Going to Support Virtual Reality
Google is looking to push and surpass the limits of its leading browser by making the newest version of its browser support virtual reality on the web. As a result, it’ll be possible for users to look at virtual reality on any device as well as over any platform. Of course, at the moment, only a handful of sites actually provide virtual-reality content for users. Google, unsurprisingly, is working hard to up this number, just in time for its support of VR on the web.
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