The browser wars enter the fourth round – and become more complex than any previous battles: Vivaldi, a modern browser for the power user, has now entered the stage, and its powerful notes tool is reminiscent of the elegance found in services like Evernote. A review of the features.
Browsocalypse now? Hardly. The demise of the browser has been prophesied at least as many times as the end of our green planet. However, browsers form the centerpiece of our digital cosmos – today more than ever. The blame lies mainly with cloud-based services and Software as a Service (SaaS) suites such as
Google Docs. The key that unlocks these applications is always on the user’s end device: the browser.
Choosing the window through which we currently look into the digital world is still a matter of the individual taste and expectations of each user. For power users, who spend several hours a day looking for information online, the optimum browser is fast, has a good tab management system, and excellent privacy protection. For this group of users, the browser should ideally synchronize with other services and devices automatically. An application scenario that couldn’t be further from the requirements of the inexperienced occasional surfer, who prefers simple access to the World Wide Web without any frills. The following feature review examines which browser is best for whom and what we can expect from the new
One could cautiously claim that “
Vivaldi: A new star invites you to the concert
Vivaldi killed the Opera”. After all, the new browser Vivaldi is picking up where Opera left off. The reference to Opera is even in the name: company founder Jon von Tetzchner is using the composer to allude to his time as the co-founder of Opera. And the browser’s features also undoubtedly reveal Tetzchner’s background: Vivaldi has an integrated email service, tab stacking (dragging one tab over the other to create a folder of tabs), and an associated user community with a mail service. Once it has matured, Vivaldi could become the new browser for the power user. One particularly innovative feature is the option to write notes on websites and to save them together with the URL and a screenshot. A fantastic tool for anyone who does a lot of research online.
Opera: The end of an era
Opera ihas emerged as the clear loser in the battle of the browsers over the last few years. The exotic Norwegian browser used to be a popular choice among power users; a number of innovations like mouse gestures, search shortcuts, tab stacking, and speed dial appeared here first before being copied by competitors. Opera’s difficulties began in 2013 when it attempted to emulate the success of Google’s Chrome with occasional surfers instead of keeping its focus on its original target group. Several functions were discontinued – a move that was met with particular disapproval from these power users. This was promptly followed by the announcement in summer 2015 that the company may be sold.
Microsoft Edge: Clippy goes into retirement
Microsoft has sidelined Internet Explorer. The good old standard browser will not be developed any further. The new browser Edge is already integrated into Windows 10 alongside the age-old problem child and can be activated as an option. Its stylish simplicity is somewhat reminiscent of Google’s Chrome. There are several modern features. One that sticks out in particular is the annotation function allowing you to describe and mark up websites on-screen with a drawing tool – an idea, by the way, that has failed several times in the past. What’s more, Microsoft is sending its loyal servant Clippy into its well-deserved retirement after 20 years of service. The talking paper clip has been replaced by Cortana, an assistant who will evidently have more charm and wit – Microsoft has put a great deal of effort into adapting her for several country versions.
Chrome: The browser with the most groupies
Chrome is the most popular browser in several countries. Its reputation for being fast is certainly not without foundation, despite not being proven in every test. Depending on which benchmark and testing system you look at, Edge and Firefox perform better. In general, therefore, differences in speed are no longer particularly relevant. Chrome’s strongest feature continues to be its simple design and ease of use. It has received repeated criticism for its lack of data protection. On the other hand, its extensive use of sandbox technology to better shield the browser from the operating system and therefore prevent attacks is more exemplary. On laptops, however, Chrome is well-known for draining the battery more quickly than other browsers.
Safari: Simple elegance from Cupertino
Similar to the browsers from other large providers, Safari is characterized by its pleasantly simple design and pre-configured connection to the cloud. The latter allows open tabs to be synchronized to other devices via iCloud. A further benefit of Safari is its special feature for sharing content by email or social media. Safari goes even further when it comes to data privacy: cookies from third parties are blocked by default and DuckDuckGo, a search engine that does not track its users, is preconfigured in the browser. By nature, Safari stands out for its good system integration. The browser is also particularly power efficient when used on a MacBook.
Firefox: The Swiss army knife of the browser world
It’s the most popular browser among German users according to various statistics – which is certainly down to the fact that Firefox, as an open source product, is more trusted and offers more options concerning data protection than its competitors. The browser can also be installed on almost all systems and mobile devices. Its great strength undoubtedly lies in the endless possibilities for customization using plug-ins. Just like its competitors, Firefox also offers a synchronization service. A plug-in even allows this to be used on any OwnCloud server.
Text: Matthias Eberl
Illustration: Jan Meyer, grasundsterne
Translation: Toby Skingsley