In this corner: Browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.

Which one is the best? While each one attempts to duke it out in the battle to be the top browser, it is important to take a closer look at what each application has to offer. Looking for speed? Security? Ease of use? Each of these browsers has its own set of pluses and minuses, allowing the user to find the one that works best for their particular preferences and needs.

Chrome

Chrome is a cross-platform web browser developed by Google. First released in 2008 for Windows, followed by versions for Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android, Chrome is a main component of ChromeOS. According to StatCounter, as of February 2019 Chrome has a 62% worldwide market share across all web browsing platforms, making it the most-used browser to date. It is a fast browser, displaying pages quickly, and has a simple design, making it easy to use.

A benefit to Chrome is that if a site on one-tab crashes, it will not affect the other tabs. Additionally, it provides Incognito Mode, which allows for private browsing with no cookies or tracking history. The user can also create new tabs, move them around, or open them in a new window. And unlike Firefox, the color and theme of the browser can be changed, allowing for personal customization, although there is a limited ability to add/change buttons and menus.

A downside to Chrome is that it uses a lot of memory to run, and if the user accidentally closes Chrome, it will also close all other open tabs without warning, which could lead to loss of time and productivity. Some users might also be concerned about Google corporate practices, which include obtaining searches and other information for marketing purposes.

Firefox

Firefox is a free and open-source browser developed by Mozilla Corporation and is available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, BSD, illumos and Solaris operating systems. (There is also a version for Android called, appropriately, Firefox for Android.) Per StatCounter, Firefox has a 9.5% usage share as a desktop browser and is the second-most popular browser behind Chrome.

Firefox is known for its privacy and security add-ons and takes up less space (314 KB) on a computer than Chrome and Edge, although some “real-world” tests have indicated that it actually takes up more space than it proclaims. Mozilla has a large amount of useful information on its website with features such as FAQs and visual tutorials, but it does not provide customer support via email or phone which can make it difficult for users if they are unable to solve any problems on their own.

It does, however, provide better security than other browsers through its use of Tracking Protection, which minimizes hidden third parties from tracking browsing activity. The URL on Firefox doubles as a search bar, saving the user time by not having to open Google in another browser tab. It can also sync between devices, with optional features linking bookmarks, passwords, and add-ons between compatible devices. It also features a Reader Mode, which provides a text-to-speech capability to the browser. It has no status bar, and no keyboard shortcuts, which may disappoint users used to those features.

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Safari

Safari is the default browser on Apple devices, and was first released on the desktop in 2003 with MacOS Panther and has been included on iPhone since the device’s introduction in 2007. It uses fewer resources (PPU and RAM) which means less power and battery drainage; however, this also means that Safari is slower than Chrome in speed and performance.

It also does not work on Windows computers. Safari less customizable than Firefox, but its security features will warn the user by recognizing phishing scams and dangerous websites known to harbor malware. It allows for the deletion of private data and has a privacy mode. In contrast to Firefox, it offers email and telephone customer support.

Edge

Edge, the default browser for Windows 10, has features not found in the competition, such as webpage markup, integrated Cortana features, Tab Preview, Set Aside, and eBook reading. Edge’s design is clean and simple – the address bar does not appear if the search box on the start page is being used, and the Favorites bar is not visible unless the user specifically turns it on.

The homepage shows news, weather, sports scores, and stock quotes, and is customizable through the gear icon. Edge also has the ability to read a webpage aloud, allowing for user multi-tasking and convenience. Faster than any competing browser, including Chrome, Edge is the only browser using Windows Hello, which is the same face/fingerprint log-in method used on desktop computers.

However, it does not have a Tracking Protection feature, which keeps unwanted sites form sharing browsing information with other sites, which might be an issue if security is a top concern and does not feature a private browsing mode. Edge has less functionality that Firefox and Chrome, as it lacks many of the tools that those browsers provide.

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So which browser wins the battle?

As with any application, it depends on the user’s needs, whether that means speed, security, functions, or ease-of-use, as well as the type of computer being used. In the end, taking a closer look at any browser will allow the user to find the right one that provides the desired combination of features, allowing for the highest level of productivity for work or leisure.

As most of these browsers are free to use and relatively easy to install, finding the right browser may simply be a matter of personal preference. Any of these – Edge, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox – are contenders in the battle to win users’ loyalty and come out on top of the Internet browsing game.

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Jennifer Inglis

Author Jennifer Inglis

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