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Please Make Google AMP Optional (alexkras.com)
1146 points by tambourine_man on June 10, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 436 comments



I'm trying to imagine the uproar if Apple had done AMP instead of Google. Somehow AMP has some staunch defenders, but everything, and I mean everything about how it's been approached has felt very anti-web and pro-Google. The overall concept may be sound, but the implementation, and the inability to escape it, has significantly hurt my opinion of Google. In fact, I no longer use Google's search because of it.


Do you think there would be an uproar? Apple introduced reading mode, built-in content/ad blocking, etc. AMP actually fits in the profile of Apple -- prioritizing a fast, usable solution.

This author notes that they "feel bad" about consuming AMP content. Which is extremely weird given that content creators intentionally volunteer their content to AMP (aside from this user who got famous claiming that Google was stealing their content because they had enabled a Wordpress plug-in haphazardly).

If Google blacklisted non-AMP content, or even just deranked it, sure there's an argument, but as of yet this notion that it's some content theft is quite strange.

Google's intention with AMP is obvious, and obviously not anti-web: Facebook is becoming a primary medium where users are accessing a lot of content. I personally read all news via Facebook now, where they've integrated it heavily with a built-in browser and now instant articles (Facebook's AMP). Compared to this, the traditional web is just an obnoxious mess, not because of the web but because of the abuse that AMP restricts.


> given that content creators intentionally volunteer their content to AMP

This is certainly not true. The reason no many content creators and publishers moved to AMP is to not hurt their SEO. If you check most of the AMP articles targeted to publishers, it's addressed as get on the AMP wagon now or else you are doomed when Google starts ranking AMP pages higher.


>This is certainly not true.

Oh but it's entirely true. If you buy the conspiracies and allusions of the anti-AMP crowd, there should be some sort of citation you can leverage. As is, the primary real concern among those who denounce AMP is that users will prefer it. Which is a pretty bizarre thing to fight against.


I mean, it's a closed source algorithm. Google provides guidance directly and indirectly but no one knows how the rank weights work outside of Google.

Amp obviously ranks higher it is the top hit in search for me. Results appear under it...


Exactly. Obscure AMP results appear higher thanbigher quality non-AMP results; What needs to be cited?


Which search result, and which obscure AMP result ranks higher than which non-AMP result? That's what needs to be cited, not an assertion free of evidence.

Second, even if that does happen, the question is whether it would have happened without AMP. In other words, is it a bug in the search algorithm, independent of AMP.


I agree with the other comments that you seem overly invested in this, but I'll play along: Do a search for "wwdc" on mobile. This was my first and only test against your challenge.

It isn't just a matter of the AMP results being ranked higher — they are segmented from non-AMP pages. The eleven (!) "Top Stories" are all AMP pages.

Under that is "People also searched for > WWDC iPhone 8", which consists of five (!) AMP pages.

Only then does it go into non-AMP pages, starting with Apple's own WWDC page. That's not just rank prioritization. There is a visual break between AMP and non-AMP pages.

It is crazier for you to blindly trust Google on this than it is for us to infer from a pattern we see over and over again, and for you to require that we provide proof that you acknowledge we can't obtain might be crazier.


Disclosure: I work at Google (but not on search).

You're confusing an important thing here: Google places news higher than the original source. Given that WWDC is over, this is actually preferable. It is true that all the news results are AMPed, but there was certainly a time when not everyone was onboard yet and the carousel included non-AMP results (I assume if you can find a news topic sufficiently obscure to have a non-AMP publisher, yet important enough for Top Stories it might show up).

If you instead search for "Iceland hikes" you get a useful one box of info, then an AMPed page then a non-AMPed result and so on.

tl;dr: Popular news publications are certainly all AMPified these days, and Top News is clearly prioritized. Regular search results aren't as clearly AMP leaning.


> It is true that all the news results are AMPed, but there was certainly a time when not everyone was onboard yet

Not everyone is on board. Many sites don't want AMPified pages. Google takes AMP pages and puts a giant "back" button that takes the website's users back to Google Search rather than deeper into the website.

It breaks URLs and referrers, because the AMP pages are now hosted on google.com, not on the destination websites' own domains.

AMP is a terrible attack on the open WWW. Google is saying, let us appify your content on our own platform (not on your own independent website) and restrict your markup/monitization options or we will drop you out of the top spot of the rankings.


One more comment about it:

This post (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14536679) is an example of how AMP works. Someone has shared a link on HN. It's an AMP link, but I'm reading it on my laptop, and it's still AMP.

The end result is that all users (desktop too) are getting sent to an appified version of the page that restricts advertising/monetization options and markup options. It seems unlikely that the people who designed AMP were unaware of how this would work in practice.

I think that the core motivation for AMP has little to do with speeding up the Web, but is more about ensuring that Google's ads are delivered and so they have some say in which ad competitors are locked out.

It would be interesting to find out how much total traffic ends up on AMP pages, broken down by device type.

Restricted AMP version from the HN link: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/amazon-sues-former-aws-vp-non-...

HTML version: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/amazon-sues-former-aws-vp-non-...


What is the point of AMP? Google could have made the web faster by just de-ranking slow sites, what advantage does AMP actually provide beyond this?

The most glaringly obvious change is that you never leave google now. There's a nice little wrapper around the site with a back button that leads you straight back to google without even a page reload.

Oh but AMP isn't evil because it's open source. Open source but if you change a single byte in any file it doesn't verify anymore and arguably is no longer AMP.

Google wasn't even planning to show the original URL at all until people made a shitload of noise about it. And it took a month to add because reasons??? It surely looks like quite a difficult feature to implement, showing a URL and all. It must have been quite challenging.

I also enjoy the feature that there's no way to shut AMP off. Why would anyone want to? Maybe this is also to difficult a task for the AMP team to implement.


So you are confirming what is the mainstream thought in this thread: Google is actually ranking higher AMP pages compared to normal content. Because I think that each top ranking news website has also a non AMP-ed version. But, as per you admission and the anecdota in this thread, all the news are litterally dominated by AMP results. So I can't really see how people can still assert that AMP has no whatsoever influence in ranking when all the news results have a huge skew toward the AMP-ed version of any website instead of the original one.


I reckon the deeper purpose behind AMP is to fight ad blockers. Another google source in a thread from a few months back mentioned that the AMP team was within Google's advertising division.

The goal is to get all the content onto google servers so they can serve ads from the same origin that cannot be blocked.

Amp in combination with chrome's built in "ad blocker" is part of a broader Google strategy to protect their advertising model.


I know you don't work on search, but I still wanted to let you know I'm happy whenever an AMP site loads, because its instant, and that it loads at all, as opposed to other sites that may time out on my slow unreliable cellular connection in India. The UX is also more consistent, which lets me quickly read the article without wading through all the junk to find it.

Don't let the haters demotivate you :)


I think that most people who are opposed to AMP aren't against it for personal reasons as much as for what it does to the open WWW. If you give up your long-term freedoms for perceived short-term personal convenience, you will end up in a worse place. If you want news with a consistent interface, there are apps for that -- the open Web shouldn't be destroyed for the rest of us in the process.


I understand and respect that you're not against AMP for personal reasons.

An acquaintance of mine was complaining that Google didn't give him a way to opt his site out of AMP. If he's right, that's a bad move on Google's part. Google should let web site owners choose to not have their content served from google.com.

When I come across an AMP search result on my phone, I'm happy, because I know it will load, and load instantly. Web pages often don't load on cellular internet in India, and a web that works is more important to me than one that's "open". Not to mention that openness is ultimately about accessibility, and if hundreds of millions of people can't access it reliably, it's not open. You may not be able to relate to this since you're based in a developed country, where the Internet works reliably.

Maybe Google is acting in users' best interests, but not site owners'.

My view about AMP is more nuanced than a binary yes/no. Reducing it to a binary choice throws the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe you have a different view, in which case I again respect it, but we should agree to disagree.


Searching "wwdc" on google.fr The very first result (top story) is not an AMP page. The other top stories are AMP pages. Then, in the regular search results, only the last one is an AMP page.

Searching "wwdc iphone 8" (not in the "people also searched" list for me) yields about 50% AMP pages. The first result is but the second isn't.

I don't really see a pattern here. The only part where AMP seems mandatory is the news carousel.


I don't see us having a constructive exchange of views, where each person gets a perspective they didn't have earlier, so I won't reply. Have a good day.


> where each person gets a perspective they didn't have earlier

That's not really how arguments work. I mean, sure, sometimes it works that way, but other times, like this time, one person is clearly in the wrong, and is simply refusing to listen to the other side.


lol okay thanks for coming back to the court to make us aware that you left the court in case we cared and didn't notice.


Try searching for pretty much any trending term on Google, on mobile. How many results in that top carousel aren't AMP pages? I'm yet to see a single one.


Google said that they prioritise fast pages, not AMP pages. You can use some other way to make your pages load fast, and it won't make a difference.

Unless you have solid evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to believe you over believing Google.


I do not really believe that. I have a site which is served way faster than it's Amp version. Obviously Google never really care to check whether original page is faster than AMP. Yes I have numbers. AMP version loads about 400ms. While the original was about 300ms. Almost certain for all pages.


That was likely a singular measurement, likely from your notebook. A user at some other location might very much disagree, unless your site has a CDN as extensive as Google.


See also: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/19/open_source_insider...

"Pinboard founder Maciej Cegłowski already recreated the Google AMP demo page without the Google AMP JavaScript and, unsurprisingly, it's faster than Google's version."


Is it really that surprising that Google finds crawling pages stored on their own CDN to be faster than pages stored... anywhere else? They don't even need to leave the Google network.


[flagged]


Rather than respoding to the points I made about AMP, you're focusing on an ad-hominem criticism of me personally. Please stop doing that.


I feel somewhat insulted by this. I am anti-AMP from a consumer perspective - I don't want to consume all my content via a Google CDN and I fear that this may be the end game that Google are playing for.


Agreed, I like AMP for many of the same reasons I liked Google Reader and RSS feeds: I'd rather consume my content in a form that's optimized for reading.


For someone with poor vision, I frequently have to zoom my browser (in landscape mode) on my iPhone in order to be able to read the text/font. When on an AMP page, the scroll mechanism gets locked when I zoom in and I have to i zoom out completely before I can scroll the page. Of course this doesn't happen on non-AMP pages.

I'd have a lot less problems with it if it didn't break my zoom functionality.


on my phone if i increase/decrease the default font size, AMP uses that.


It is absolutely true. How can you say otherwise? Business is free to chose.


> If Google blacklisted non-AMP content, sure there's an argument, but as of yet this notion that it's some content theft is quite strange.

Doesn't Google already admit to prioritising AMP pages in search results?


They do. They seem to be a little quiet about the idea that a right/left swipe on your content switches to a competitors page though.


It seems to be switching to the next article on the carousel. Which, at least for me completely breaks the web experience. Opening an amp page from google requires getting used to a whole new set of, in my opinion, unnecessary conventions.


I can't think of another search engine alternative - a truly objective one. It used to be Google. Then they gained a tremendous amount of market share. Even an English language verb - googled. Now it's them. And I ask, now what?


Try out DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com/). I've been using it for a few years and love it. They don't track you. They don't store your info. Plus, as far as I know they don't do anything besides search so they have no reason to not be objective.


I use DDG on all my devices at home and work. This whole thread has been a learning experience to me, because I never experience the various problems people have been reporting with AMP.

Perhaps my results could have been loading faster? I'm not willing to make a deal with the devil to find out. I'm pretty satisfied with what I have now.


Thus far it is purportedly not a ranking factor.

https://moz.com/blog/google-amp-search-results https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/07/06/is-google-amp-a-ran...

[just to be clear, just because you read it in some HN thread doesn't make it true. Let's see a single citation that it actually influences ranking]


I'm yet to see a single page in the carousel at the top of a search page not be an AMP page.


To be precise, it is not explicitly boosted in the rankings. One factor that Google Search takes into account is page load time.

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-i...

There was a vicious spiral at work related to advertisers not caring enough about page load, and adding that signal was not enough. AMP shifted the game by placing the burden on Google of specifying a way to hit advertisers' goals while offering a faster experience.


> To be precise, it is not explicitly boosted in the rankings. One factor that Google Search takes into account is page load time.

And AMP pages are hosted on a Google CDN. They are very clearly putting their thumb on the scale.


In the organic results or the carousel?


I don't think its comparable to Apple. Apple is trying to make the user experience of existing content better (where it is located)

Google is taking the content and serving it themselves.

The problem is sites being slow in the first place, but Apple isn't commandeering the content itself like Google is by creating a mode where the browser can enhance legibility of any article.


but Apple isn't commandeering the content itself like Google is

Content authors voluntarily publish their content in AMP form, so it doesn't seem fair to say that they commandeer anything: AMP is a subset of HTML intended for a fast mobile experience, and if you decide to take part you publish flags allowing Google to cache it. Google isn't unilaterally converting content to AMP.

The core argument against AMP primarily seems to be a fear that users will actually prefer AMP content. Which is ultimately rather anti-user.


> The core argument against AMP primarily seems to be a fear that users will actually prefer AMP content

How on earth did you arrive to that conclusion?


Exactly and thanks for pointing out. What matters most is the user and user experience, It is NOT about Google or Apple. Posts like they are the #2 corp or whatever is not relevant.


Huh? That doesn't hold true for whole iTunes, News stand, Music, iBooks, Podcasts and all other content silos Apple introduced. If anything they even deliberately make content consumption from competing sources harder on iOS devices.


>Google is taking the content and serving it themselves.

How is Google taking the content? Isn't it the creator that is publishing their content using AMP?


Google is grabbing a normal website and completely, utterly breaking it. Have you ever actually tried to use an AMP page, share it, etc?

AMP is garbage, and honestly whoever signed off on it shouldn't have a position at Google or wider tech community.


It's the creator of the content that creates the AMP page and publishes it on AMP.


That's not quite accurate. If you make an AMP page, Google will cache it. Google caching it is not optional.

https://developers.google.com/amp/cache/faq#can-i-stop-conte...


Why would you make an AMP page?


Restricting what you use to the AMP subset would make your page quite fast, with a dependency on a javascript file that most mobile browsers should have cached, along with having your page in the top carousel loading in smoothly like all the others. This can all be detected from your main page when crawled (as it'll link to the AMP version) so depending on the device one or the other can be presented as a search result.

None of that requires being hosted by google.


None of that requires being hosted by google.

Caching is a part of the platform and is entirely coherent with the goals, and if you want analytics or ads, you approach those in a different way. AMP caching isn't limited to Google - Bing, for instance, caches and serves AMP as well. Ultimately anyone could, and HN could cache and quick-serve AMP content for supporting sources. AMP is open source and any one can take part.

I should add a side note that many of the comments on here have taken the predictable turn of claiming that people who defend AMP are "over invested" or must work at Google. I have nothing to do with Google, and have a reasoned, fact-based opinion on AMP. I think it's a last-ditch salvation for a web where sites are demonstrating a tragedy of the commons. Nor do I think everyone denouncing AMP works for Apple or some competitor.


Coherent with the goals, sure, but not required for any benefit. [edit for clarity, while it may improve things, it is not required for at least some benefit]

What I dislike is not being able to choose simply to make and host an AMP content myself without google taking it and hosting it on their own servers. I cannot opt-in to this, nor can I opt-out. My only choice is to not do anything with AMP.

What is the way to host your own AMP cache? The AMP project under caching just shows the google cache and links to a google page.

As a side note, what if what I publish is not acceptable by google? Will they remove my content, despite having already taken it and given it to people under that URL? If AMP content must be loaded from the caches, is my content only valid AMP if google and the jurisdictions they operate under approve?


"Open source" in that context is a meaninless buzzword. It is not "open" when giant companies appify your content in their walled gardens, even if you can read part of the code.


How can it be called an HTML subset when they've introduced custom tags like "amp-img"?


Custom Elements are a web standard. Anyone can just make up new tags, if they include a hyphen in the name. And with customElements.define() you can attach an ES6 class to that element and boom, DOM as an open component model.

AMP is a subset because in addition to the elements, they provide a set of restrictions that would make your page "valid AMP" and cached by Google's creepy CDN thingy.


> If Google blacklisted non-AMP content, or even just deranked it, sure there's an argument, but as of yet this notion that it's some content theft is quite strange.

They do kind of do this. AMP pages get highlighted and populate the top results( at least for me) which kind of has the same effect as reducing the rank of normal websites.


There are two things here that I feel are being conflated.

There's the AMP library and format. That is a huge part of what you're talking about with speed, annoying popups, etc. It's an open source library and people can use it or not.

Then there's Google grabbing all of the AMP pages, rewriting them and putting them on a Google domain.

You cannot opt out of the second part. There's not a lot of abuse I can think of that's being restricted by this, and it feels like it would be a simple problem to fix.


Will not Google showing your pages on its domain decrease your visitor count and make your site less attractive to advertisers?


Reading mode is optional and at-will. You can disable pop-up blocking in Settings.

It's pretty clear, I think, Apple would've approached this just like they did reading mode.


You should really be careful of sourcing your news on fb, you're being spoon fed the news fb's algos want you to see.


> you're being spoon fed the news fb's algos want you to see.

This comment is applicable to all media sources: replace "fb's algos" with any newspaper, website, or TV channel name. You might want to be careful of sourcing your news from one single source instead.


Choosing which separate media outlets to read gives far more control than leaving it up to one company, Facebook.

This extension is great: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/news-feed-eradicat...


Any newspaper or website doesn't have the most indepth pyschological insight about as Facebook.


I mean that I subscribe to the feeds of the media that I find useful, not that I follow their hot topics or suggested feeds.

And many of those media sites use Instant Articles (Facebook's AMP) and honestly I've found that I greatly prefer them, because it really sucks to click a story and have an abomination that grinds my device to a halt, starts a hidden autoplay video, etc. The same forces are at play: Controlling sites that destroy the web by making it such a miserable experience.


> Apple introduced reading mode,

A purely local feature that you have to select manually and doesn't infringe on your privacy or break the ability to share links.


> This author notes that they "feel bad" about consuming AMP content

I found this comment interesting as well. I really like the instant load aspect and would much rather not waste time waiting for a slow page to load.

I think the author feels that the free hosting provided by AMP is overshadowed by the loss of personal ad revenue from the traffic.


AFAIK AMP is just a list of Do's and Dont's that google qualify as AMP content. Even other search engines like DuckDuckGo and Bing could use it if the choose so. You can access AMP outside of google and host it yourself. You can go AMP-only if you o please. Instant Articles from Facebook on other hand is tied into facebook's platform.


>no longer use Google's search because of it

I'm not using it too, but not because of that (and I was unaware of amp before). DDG shows instant wiki, stackoverflow, lyrics previews, while google only does that for wiki. I don't use gmail because of crappy ui, ux and designs. I wouldn't use annoying youtube if dailymotion was not blocked. Translate is only bearable for english. Local maps are way better in navigation/street/company info (probably not true for US/EU).

Summarizing, I clearly see no value in google services for me today and it was surprisingly easy to get rid of it completely.

Edit: and in search regard, ddg/yahoo links lag far less than google's redirects and ddg never presented me "you're a robot, enter captcha to not get to our search service anyway" for hours.


So your criticism of google search is that they don't go far enough in appropriating website content?


I'm not native speaker and can't get what "appropriating" means here. But that wasn't a criticism, that was a sharing of observation that, despite of "the fact" that google search is superior and irreplaceable, this is simply not true at least for one guy like me. Discovering that is very hard, unless some default browser in popular linux distro temporarily forces you to non-default default.

Other services were mentioned only to support "completely" part, which is criticism, but not search-related.


Same here. On the other hand it has not, as far as I know affected my life - nobody in my country seems to be working on AMP projects, nobody I consult for has ever asked for it, I don't think I ever end up on an AMP page. Really for me it seems like a technology that is failing fast, but what I hear from the U.S seems to threaten the opposite.


You can compare Google's AMP to Apple's efforts with Apple News. It also is locked down and anti-web, but it's also entirely opt-in both for publishers and users.


same it's amazing how different responses would be depending on the company who did an action. just goes to show the power of good pr. pretend to do some moonshots which you shut down a few years later and you can get away with anything


Google Search on Mobile is no longer a web search engine that hyperlinks to the resulting page, but rather an search-integrated newsreader that loads itself when you click on a result that's marked with AMP. This is understandably a big change from how things used to be, but it isn't going to get better anytime soon.

After all, most people on mobile spend their time inside apps, probably from some Google competitor like Facebook. Within these apps, they click on links, which increasingly load inside webviews; the framing app collects info on where people go, and uses this to sell targeted advertising. Facebook is a king in this space, and is now the second largest server of internet display ads, after Google.

Google's assault on Facebook's encroachment is twofold: drive people to Google's apps like the Google Now Launcher (now the default launcher on Android) or the Google app present in older versions of Android and available for iOS, and deploy the same content-framing techniques from their own search engine webpage on mobile user-agents, where the competition is most fierce, and they can also position it as legitimate UX improvement -- which, to their credit, is largely true, as bigpub content sites on mobile were usually usability nightmares and cesspits of ads.

I understand that the author and quite a few others are peeved at this behavior and that there's no way of turning it off. But it's really not in Google's best interest to even offer the option, because then many people will just turn it off, encouraged by articles like the author's own last year where he was caught off-guard and before he gained a more nuanced appreciation for what's really going on.

The bottom line is this: Google is inseparable from its ad-serving and adtech business -- it is after all how they make most of their money -- so if you are bothered by their attempts to safeguard their income stream from competitors who have a much easier time curating their own walled garden, you should cease using Google Search on Mobile. There are other alternatives, who may not be as thorough at search, but that's the cost of the tradeoff.


"on mobile" these days is a device with a quad core, 3GB of RAM, and a 1080p + screen.

I don't want your stupid "mobile" website that doesn't work, your cut-down "optimized" walled-garden product.

I just want the normal web, in all its glory.


"on mobile" these days can be anything from a 3'' device with 512MB RAM to the device you mention.

It's very easy to assume that everyone has the latest device in an affluent society that doesn't have much of a problem buying the latest and greatest, but I can assure you this isn't the case in most of the world.

You're failing to see that Google is used everywhere in the world and not all countries (in fact, very few) have markets where the standard device is what you describe or where everyone has blazing fast LTE available everywhere.

For example, there are places here in Colombia where 2G is the norm, that's the kind of people AMP is helping, not the bay area kid that has the latest iPhone and 100Mb Wi-Fi


> a 3'' device with 512MB RAM ... 2G

Such luxuries. I spent several years reading web pages on a 33MHz 386DX with 8MB of RAM. Yes, Netscape took a while to start (had to wait for the rest of Win 3.1 to swap out), and downloading images was always somewhere between "slow" and "don't bother" even with the glorious 14.4kbps of a fancy V.32bis modem[1]. However, it still only took a few (15-20) seconds to fetch an article and render it.

The slowness started when websites decided it was fashionable to add a few dozen unnecessary HTTP requests to fetch megabytes of Javascript. The bloat is self inflicted, and websites do not need Google's help to make their pages small and fast. Unfortunately, many pages value the bloated ad loaders and trackers, several types of spyware ("analytics"), and their favorite "framework" more than they value the actual content of the page or the reader's experience. Google is happy to pretend the problem isn't self-inflicted when it gives them more tracking data.

Yes, it's important to remember that there will always be a wide variation in the User Agent. That's one of the reasons well-designed websites progressively enhance the heavier features. Websites can do this on their own - just like they did 10/15/20 years ago. An over-engineered caching system isn't necessary. Do you want a future where the internet retains some of it's interactive, decentralized qualities? Or do you want a fancier version of Cable TV, mostly controlled by Google et al?

[1] On weekends I was stuck with the old 2400bps V.22bis hand-me-down.


"You're failing to see that Google is used everywhere in the world and not all countries (in fact, very few) have markets where the standard device is what you describe or where everyone has blazing fast LTE available everywhere."

So here's an idea: Seeing as some folks _do_ have these powerful devices and fast connections, Google could make AMP _optional_.


I'm literally sitting in the middle of a field right now using an iPhone with a 4G connection. I don't need AMP, I need a way to turn it off.

Let people enable AMP browsing if they need it.


> You're failing to see that Google is used everywhere in the world and not all countries (in fact, very few) have markets where the standard device is what you describe or where everyone has blazing fast LTE available everywhere.

So Googles solution is to pull everyone down to the lowest common denominator, which is shit. Google basically re-invented WAP and is trying to set the web back 15 years.

Sure, not everyone has a fast connection and a high-end device, but they could have easily limited AMP to just those devices instead of forcing it down everyones throat.


I feel the same way. 99% of what I do requires the non-mobile site. Most links I open are github pull requests and the mobile site doesn't give the option to approve with a message, second most common is Circle CI which again is worthless in mobile form, third most common is JIRA, which again, I have to click "request desktop" in the menu to be able to search and do everything I expect.

What's even worse is that Google is pushing Chrome tabs in process now: https://developer.chrome.com/multidevice/android/customtabs

So in all the biggest apps like Gmail, Slack, etc. I now have to click a link and it shows up in process, then I have to pick the menu option to view it in real Chrome, then I have to pick the menu option to request desktop site. So they've added two clicks and two page loads to almost every site I visit.


> "on mobile" these days is a device with a quad core, 3GB of RAM, and a 1080p + screen.

You left out the most important reasoning for AMP, which is the network. Even in the US, cellular networks are almost invariably slower/higher latency/less reliable than wired (or even wifi) networks. In other areas of the world where most users are not on 4g it's a huge difference.


Boy how I wish any of my mobiles had that feature set, not everyone is willing/able to spend more than a PC on a mobile device.


There are relatively cheap, unlocked Chinese phones available -- e.g., ZTE's Axon 7 -- with the aforementioned specs. One doesn't have to spend 600 USD+.


"The bottom line is this: Google is inseparable from its ad-serving and adtech business -- it is after all how they make most of their money -- so if you are bothered by their attempts to safeguard their income stream from competitors who have a much easier time curating their own walled garden, you should cease using Google Search on Mobile."

Thank you for this - it's a good summary.

I would go further and suggest a deeper bottom line - the desire of google/facebook/et.al to become "the phone company".

There was a long period of time when end users did not even own the telephone in their home and were not allowed to touch the wiring. We should act as if that level of control and captivity of the audience is the driving force behind the actions these firms take.


>Google Now Launcher (now the default launcher on Android)

This is not the default launcher on Android. Each OEM has their own launcher. It's also not even the default launcher in AOSP for obvious reasons.


> if you are bothered by their attempts to safeguard their income stream from competitors who have a much easier time curating their own walled garden, you should cease using Google Search on Mobile.

You're making excuses for Google, but forgetting about smaller, independent companies. It is not in our interests to have our content appified and restricted inside of Google's walled garden. When a big company like Google (or its competitors) attacks the open WWW, then web publishers should oppose it.


There's a lot of complaint about Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles, e.g. walled garden, anti-open-web and whatnot.

Here's something simpler from a non-developer, average-consumer point of view. I recently began taking BART to work daily (new job). For those who don't know, BART is Bay Area's subway system, and (at least on the east bay side) cell reception is notoriously spotty.

When I'm on the train, which includes 2 hours of my day everyday (unfortunately), I'd be browsing on say Facebook, and look at links that my friends post. Instant articles almost always load successfully (and quickly) and external links to actual sites almost always fails to load or loads insanely slowly.

Yes, when you're at home or in the city with good mobile reception, these things make no sense and you'd rather hit the original site directly. Give them their ad revenue, etc. to support them, right. But for the average consumers who actually have problems like slow internet (like the average joe who rides public transportation and wants to read on their phone), things like AMP and Instant Articles actually help. I can only imagine outside of silicon valley (where I live), how much more significant of a problem slow internet/slow mobile data actually is.

P.S. I don't work at Google or Facebook, and I know this sounds like propaganda, not to mention this is exactly what they would like to tell you as the "selling points" of these features, in order to continue building their walled garden empires. Fully aware of it, but I did want to bring up why they exist and why I even actually like them.


Yeah, but maybe there's a better way to get you your nice BART outcome, you know? I think that's really part of the pushback here. We haven't really given social permission for Google to convert the web to AMP by force.


> ...convert the web to AMP by force. @themodelplumber

Complete hyperbole. Google's not forcing anyone to use AMP. They're not forcing developers or users to use AMP.

There is no force. There is only usability. Users prefer usability. Developers prefer people use their products. If a user does not, or cannot, connect to the developer's product the developer loses. If a user cannot connect easily and speedily to a page, they will not consider the product.

I rock an LG V20 and I use Chrome mobile. AMP lets me connect to the content I wish to consume speedily and easily. I connect at a significantly faster rate than without AMP. Thus...

I <3 AMP. I don't care who controls it. As long as I can connect to the content I want, I'm good.


> There is no force.

If you as a publisher want your content to show up in the carousel or top search results, you really have no choice but to use amp. It’s coercion if it’s not force.


"Then use a different internet" -Free Market Evangelists


Bullshit, Google forced my top hits to be AMP instead of the the web. If I had a way to get the web, I would have continued to use Google. But as a user, Google decided that I should not have the choice to opt out of AMP.


I'm seeing less and less non-AMP content as time goes on and publishers jump on the hype train.

I am being forced to use AMP because I have no way to tell my search results to link to the real content


If google wasn't trying to buttsecks you they would allow javascript blockers in Chrome. But they don't.

Just the tip bruh.


We haven't really given social permission for Google to convert the web to AMP by force.

Google is not the problem here.

As a user this choice is not yours; you get what the publisher wants to publish. If a publisher chooses to build an AMP version of their content they are telling Google that's what they want you to see when you click through to a story they've published.

We, the users, don't get a say in this beyond choosing not to view the content from publishers who use AMP.


Exactly. You can ask Google/Facebook to provide hotspots inside trains, ask the network provider to make cell reception better inside the subway etc. There are ways to achieve a better outcome instead of locking down how you consume the internet.


So in your world, he should devote all of his time, money, and effort into getting multi-billion dollar corporations and massive bureaucracies to install millions of dollars of soon-to-be-outdated equipment in a massive urban transportation upgrade, instead of just clicking on the link that works?

Millennial thinking.


Again, you are taking the suggestions too literally. What I simply suggest is a better alternative than AMP. Optimize pages better, improve their rendering engine, make better compression algorithms, complex CDN's or something which I can't even think of which makes pages snappier and better. I personally just don't agree with the AMP as a solution. I don't want to waste my time on explaining why as you can already see most of the downsides and my views are something like an union of most of them(you can start with the UX problems).

Also, just going with the solution that just works now is not always the best method going forward. It might be enough for you, but then again it isn't good enough for me.


Or instead of waiting few seconds, just get into the line of closed internet (let them monopolize it). It's the same like giving up the democracy for one-party system. Because if you stand out, you might heart yourself.

Nothing will you miss by missing few news. Try it, seriously!


Convenience is not enough to make monopoly a right choice. This is a road towards monopoly (duopoly or just powerhouses holding the power - name it as you want it).

Yeah, many Google and FB services are great, but should you fully depend on them?


There are a hundred unsavory shortcuts you can take in life to make things easier and smoother. Doesn't mean you should take them.


But why do this when those of us in the (rest of the) world where the mobile internet works properly do not need it?


Please, web developers, as a minimum, set up your websites so that they do not depend on Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon or Apple for their functionality. That means, for example, use DoubleClick or AdSense or GoogleAnalytics if you like, but please do not use jquery from Google's CDNs. If you do that, and the site is dependent on that functionality to work (i.e. for text to be displayed), those of us who don't allow Google CDNs will not be able to use the site. The same for WebAssembly: use it if you like, but please don't make your actual content unnecessarily dependent on the use of services from these multinationals. It makes the Web less free.


Thing is, if you're a news site, your news isn't going to show up on Google's news platforms if it doesn't support AMP.

As a customer, I don't like this behavior at all. I do not like AMP, mostly for the small issue that it's very difficult to link to the base page. Minor consistent inconvenience, major feature rage.

But I can't imagine what it's like for a web developer. You need to support a whole other platform just to maintain your audience, which is also your lifeblood. Also, that audience won't actually see your page; just the text with some Googly UI. Avoiding it would be fantastic, but it also wouldn't be a realistic option.


One of the comments in Alex Kras's linked page asks "Can’t you make a direct link to your site’s page auto generated on your article templates?" [0] which seems a very reasonable, though perhaps not ideal, solution that doesn't require Google to make AMP optional, something I think Google is very unlikely to do.

[0] https://www.alexkras.com/please-make-google-amp-optional/#co...


It's really strange to me that Google just decided to remove the option to not use AMP. I personally hate that part of it the most. It's like someone made the decision to not even fight the take-rate battle. "AB test it? Hah! They'll use it if they want to get to the result!". It seems to be getting them tons of ill will which they could easily fix by just putting a non-amp link on results. Then again, "tons" on HN equates to basically nothing across their whole user base, so I doubt they really care too much, but damn, what an awful idea/decision to take away the choice.


I was under the impression that WebAssembly had reached cross-browser consensus and isn't a service from any individual multinational.

How would using WebAssembly make the web less free any more than using other new features like Async/Await?


It depends on what you do with that blob; if you use it to request some required encrypted content, for example, users won't be able to do much about that.


> That means, for example, use DoubleClick or AdSense or GoogleAnalytics if you like, but please do not use jquery from Google's CDNs.

Why is Google Analytics ok and not their CDN?


My point is that anyone can use an adblocker or Squid proxy filtering to block GoogleAnalytics, but if the site uses jquery from a Google CDN to render content, that cannot be blocked without making the site unusable. It's even worse if the Google CDN request is made with https, because then a redirection needs to be made inside the browser.


Can't you whitelist the specific jQuery library on Google's CDN though?

Serving widely used libraries out of a CDN is a best practice for a reason. Most visitors will already have it in cache. What alternative are you supposing? Local hosting? That has drawbacks, including more cache misses and increased bandwidth costs for the website provider.


It's not always the user doing the blocking. A lot of sites broke for me when I was in China because they were trying to fetch resources from Google's CDN, which is/was blocked there.


Surely the primary blame there lies in China's censorship of the Internet, no? Isn't it just assumed that if you're traveling to China you need to be using a VPN in order to have the web as you're used to it work normally?


No doubt Google considers it a best practice, because they are in the business of knowing what people do on the internet. How often will a browser get the jquery for a particular website or check with the CDN? There are a lot of jquery versions in use, the cache gets deleted (often on browser close) or expires, cache-age=0, etc. Almost always?

Besides providing jquery themselves, websites can use a CDN from another provider. OK, that might cost an extra 20 ms.


Right, but then Google can leverage their CDN to track you, whether or not you also let them show you ads through normal channels. Ideally people would use a CDN not built to track people around.

Presumably once Google traps you into an unblockable ad channel (on mobile or whatever) they will unleash the tracking they've been doing on you.


It's really not as beneficial as it sounds in theory. Sites uses different versions of these libraries. You would be better serving a single minified asset that is cached for your users.


Websites using cdns should always use a server hosted backup, it's not that hard

  <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.2.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
  <script>
  if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined')
  {
     document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='/serverHostedJquery.js' %3E%3C/script%3E"));
  }
  </script>


Is not it better to serve scripts from your server? It gives you more control and you don't have to share your visitors data with Google. With external hosting you get more downtime, and in some countries Google servers are blocked so you get less visitors.


It's annoying to test though. You'd be better self hosting everything and putting a CDN in front of your site.


A website still functions without Google Analytics.

99% of websites won't function if they lose a key library.


maybe this means Google Analytics isn't a key library?


Yes that's what people in this thread have been saying. I'm not sure what your point is.


That's what the person you are responding to is saying.


>The same for WebAssembly: use it if you like, but please don't make your actual content unnecessarily dependent on the use of services from these multinationals.

WebAssembly is an open-standard.


It's EXEs and JARs for the Internet.

Sure, it has a text format, but it's the equivalent of Lispified Java bytecode. (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/WebAssembly/Underst... (uninformative but current), http://loyc.net/2016/lesv3-and-wasm.html (2016, from when wasm wasn't finalized, but has some good concrete examples that look like the wasm in the first link))

With this being said, it may actually be easier to figure out wasm than frameworkified JS since you can apply IDA-style reversing to it.

Open question: what existing tools and research are good at inferring the high-level behavior of stack machines? Eg, research papers, or (preferably open source) tools for reversing eg Java code. I want links I can throw at Ph.Ds.


>It's EXEs and JARs for the Internet.

It's bytecode. I'm not sure if it is a big downgrade from 100,000 lines of minified JS code.

>With this being said, it may actually be easier to figure out wasm than frameworkified JS since you can apply IDA-style reversing to it.

It may.


Obviously not open-source, but IntelliJ's decompiler is excellent.


> those of us who don't allow Google CDNs will not be able to use the site

I can't imagine this accounts for more than a tiny number of visitors and people technical enough to do this will know what to reenable.


Google AMP:

1. Obscures the web page's URL.

2. Makes manual zoom in/out impossible.

3. Sometimes hides content mentioned in the article, with no ability to scroll horizontally to see it.

4. Confuses Chrome on Amdroid into over-hiding its top address/menu bar (forcing two swipes down all the way to the top to show) or forces it to show (won't hide on scroll down).

This is just coming from a user's perspective, fortunately it doesn't impact my work, but may in future websites I build due to it being almost 100% of the news articles I read.


5) tap to scroll to the top of page also doesn't work on the iPhone


I was just going to comment this, but I will upvote your comment instead. This drives me crazy


...and changes the native scroll behavior iOS (which is much slower). Google has no respect for the native behavior


The native behavior changed in iOS 11 so that Safari scrolling on any page is just like the accelerated scrolling on AMP.

Check out this response from a Google AMP engineer about scrolling: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14384938


Thanks for pointing this out. I am looking forward to a homogeneous scrolling experience. Still, I don't understand why google's AMP team they would change scrolling behavior in iOS 10 and lower.


It's slower for a reason. I'm not sure why they'd switch after a decade simply because Google asked them to.


I understand the frustration with AMP from a developer's perspective (SEO, stealing traffic..etc). But as a user I tend to click links with a thunder bolt icon(AMP/Instant article) because they are just faster. I don't really recall any bad experience.


Going back to the old days' BBS does not seem like a bad idea.


I suggest stop using google search altogether. https://duckduckgo.com/ is an excellent search engine and its trivial to make a google search via `!g` prefix when you are not finding what you are looking for.


I started using DDG a few months back and I've been very happy so far. Sometimes results aren't as great, so I just use !g to load Google. But even better, you can search across different websites! For example, !mdn for Mozilla Developer Network, or !yt for YouTube

Another thing you can do is use alternative browsers. On mobile I use Firefox Mobile, which has the benefit of allowing extensions, so you can install uBlock Origin! That makes a gigantic different in mobile web performance. On my laptop I've been using Safari as my main browser because it consumes far less memory, and it seems to handle mountains of tabs a lot better than Chrome.


I actually find DDG results to be better and more relevant a lot of the time nowadays. The only thing Google really has an edge on (for my use) is searching for academic articles, because of Google Scholar.


DDG used to be worse but now it's about even. Every time I get bad results on DDG and use !g I find equally bad results.


Can't agree. Almost always when DDG has only spam or useless results, !g gives me exactly what I looked for. I like DDG, especially the bangs, but Google still gives me way better results when I need them.


Out of curiosity, what are some examples? You can also submit feedback directly in the results, which the DDG team uses to improve their algorithms.


Just had an extremely horrendous example. Searching for "webpack 3" the first link doesn't mention "webpack" at all, only packweb and generally it's an absolutely useless result page.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22webpack+3%22&atb=v49-4&ia=web


Can you screenshot your results please, because mine are all webpack related.


https://imgur.com/a/oMWBC

But yeah, saw that I had south africa enabled. Still makes little sense but explains a bit why the result is so weird.


IIRC most commonly it's coding related stuff.


Same experience. I switched 4 years ago, and the search results that I'm interested in were as good or better than google.

Except scientific articles. I've yet to find a service that comes anywhere close to Google Scholar, which I think is the most successful of their products for my use case.


Same experience here.

Sometimes though, I do have problems finding what I'm looking for (when it is obscure) so I pre-pend !g in front, but generally it's not much better ...


I'm using Android with Chrome, and there is no option to change the search engine to DDG :/

The only options are: Google, Bing, AOL, Yahoo, Ask.


If you go to ddg in chrome they provide a link that will add ddg as a search provider.


It works, thanks!


The sad thing is that AOL & Yahoo is really Bing, and Ask is I believe Google. So essentially it comes down to Google and Bing.

To get DDG you'll need to use a different browser like FF.

I actually blocked Chrome on my phone and started using FF once I noticed that Chrome was updating itself even though I was requiring manual updates. Play Store and Google Play Services do the same thing, but don't have a good alternative for them,


Yahoo was using Bing from around 2010 to 2015. But since then they've been using a variety of sources - Bing, Google, and presumably their own, and I think it can mix the results.

Yahoo's search business was always odd... They had their own search, then switched to search powered by Google. Then they purchased Overture, which owned AlltheWeb and AltaVista. Overture had originally purchased AlltheWeb from FAST, who had pivoted into the enterprise space, and later got bought by Microsoft and integrated into SharePoint.


DDG actually was using Yahoo as a serach provider and now uses Yandex. The ads on DDG are from the Yahoo network.

> AOL & Yahoo is really Bing What? I don't get that -- I don't know about AOL, but I thought that Yahoo does its own crawling (their Slurp bot)


AOL has Bing in the footer, Yahoo had Bing references in the source view when I checked, although it looks like what tallanvor said and they just return mix of search engines.


They used to. That changed like 8 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo!_Search


Try Samsung internet. It has ddg by default. Also you can install ad blockers for it from the play store.


I have been looking to do the same, but so far no luck.


See comment above for a fix.


I moved off of gmail a few months ago, pretty happy about that but man duckduckgo fucking suuuucks. Really wish there was a nonprofit (with a strong privacy policy) wikipedia like .org solution that provided good results.


What problems are you running in to? I've been using duckduckgo at work for just over a year now (took a change of job as an ideal time to try a complete switch in search engine too), and it has been excellent. I've been getting almost as good results as I do from google on even from some fairly vague terms, and comparable to Google when I give it explicit text to search for. Unlike Google it also seems to pay a lot more attention to searching for what I'm asking for, instead of trying to play guessing games.


DDG does kinda suck at finding specific programming things sometimes. The results are just not as good for the more obscure and rare stuff.


This is because Google also tries to build a profile for you and serves different results based on that, while DDG will return the same thing for the same keywords to different people.

For searches in specific domains it is better to use bangs. For example prefixing with !py shows results from python manual.

Here's more about it: https://duckduckgo.com/bang


I've found this to be true for Bing too. For general search, it matches Google in accuracy. But in the case when I want to find a specific compilation error, only Google gives me useful results. But I still use Bing, and switch to Google only for such stuff.


https://startpage.com (there are others) is a good way to get google results without directly feeding the beast.


I always search for things on duckduckgo and basically always find good enough results. I can only guess that everyone who thinks the results are bad has been using Google so much that they get really user-specific results that they like, despite the bubble.


Oh yeah it sucks. The main problem for me is the broken autocomplete. E.g. you want to search "Sydney Thai Restaurants"; you start typing "Sydney Thai res" and you click the first suggestion because duckduckgo is auto-completing the word "restaurants"... except now your search is "London Thai Restaurant".

https://imgur.com/a/V9I4o


the thing is, if you expect DevOps- and testing-related results to a cucumber chef query[0], the search provider really needs to keep a file on you. otherwise you're going to get pages and pages of salad, end of story. this was the nature of the loss of relevancy i saw in DDG results when i started using it several years ago. instead of complaining about it, i took it as a wakeup call to the severity of my google bubble problem.

[0] https://hn.algolia.com/?query=cucumber%20chef%20salad&sort=b...


Take a look at http://yacy.net. Though the 'good results' part is missing yet, due to (I believe) too few nodes.

Upd: and https://github.com/asciimoo/searx


What mail service are you using now?


Not OP but I recently switched to Fastmail myself. It's web interface is a bit bland but you can use IMAP/SMTP and your device's built in client if that's an issue

Liking it so far, really liking being able to attach my domains natively to my inbox


Not OP, but I switched to my domain provider's email service. I use IMAP on my phone and POP3 on my computer, so when I'm away I can sneak-peek via the phone, but when I'm at my computer I pop the messages and classify locally, which removes them from the server. The cheapest mail service out there is about $5/mo, but this way all I pay is the annual renewal about $10.


Having been camping in a field for the past week but still needing my internet fix I think I'm going to start giving ddg a real chance (still hate the name though) until Google gives me a setting to disable AMP results

I get the idea behind AMP but it's just far too late to the game for Google to be pushing it so heavily. Back on 2G internet I used Opera Mini, I don't use that now because I just don't need it anymore


Well lucky you for having an impossibly great internet connection. Do you seriously never go anywhere with slightly less-than-perfect coverage? Or travel by train?

AMP is so much faster than 90% of websites 90% of the time I can see why Google push it so much.


Impossibly great? I'm not saying everything responds instantly but usually there's either signal or there isn't.

AMP pages don't work offline just as much as regular internet


Not my experience at all. And even with good signal many heavy news sites take a long time to load.

For example this mobile speed test puts theverge.com at 21 seconds to load! That matches my experience. You can't tell me AMP is as slow as that. It's not even close.

https://gtmetrix.com/reports/theverge.com/Qli1RH8u

In my experience AMP pages load in 2-3 seconds, even with bad signal.


What made me move back to Google from DDG is the (by construction?) inability of the latter to learn what you're interested in. For things like documentation search, Google quickly starts tailoring results to $LANG.


DDG is a wrapper on top of Bing. Maybe just skip the middleman and use Bing instead?


Then you'd get bubbled and tracked just like if you use Google, although you'd avoid AMP. DDG uses Bing and other sources, it's not literally just a wrapping of Bing.


Not just Bing. They use many sources and I think they do some indexing on their own. IIRC Yandex is one of the sources too.


Does Bing have "bangs" such as !gm for Google Maps, !gh for GitHub, !wa for WolframAlpha and so on? With no user tracking?

I was a heavy user of address bar search prefixes, but it's amazingly convenient to not have to think about it until the very end of a query (or even add it in the middle).


That's not true.


I guess I'll try DuckDuckGo for a while (annoyed by AMP).


Tried it for like 3 hours and got angry about how bad it is.


If a search engine needs a shortcut to use another search engine, how good can it really be?


DDG is probably worse than Google, but often it's good enough.

The !commands allow you to search more specific sites directly - if I know I want Wikipedia, which I often do, I can just type !w and search it directly. Similar for other things like IMBD, Wolfram Alpha, etc. It's just a convenience.

You can also search Google using a command, which is sometimes necessary when you're really crawling the depths of the internet for something old or weird, but nine times out of ten the straight DDG results will get you where you need in my experience.


"What I realized today, however, is that while I don’t so much mind AMP as a publisher, I really hate it as a user. I realized that EVERY TIME I would land on AMP page on my phone, I would click on the button to view the original URL, and would click again on the URL to be taken to the real website.

I don’t know why I do it, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel “right” to me to consume the content through the AMP. It feels slightly off, and I want the real deal even if it takes a few seconds extra to load."

I have subconsciously been doing the exact same thing for a while now, and I think this quote covers a good deal of public sentiment. It's weird to use AMP, yet slower without it.

Another main issue I have with AMP is that there is no speedy way to check the url, something I do quite frequently. Instead it's just Google's hosting for the site, with the source being only available by clicking on the link icon.


The author's argument against AMP comes down to "I don’t know why I do it, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel “right” to me to consume the content through the AMP. It feels slightly off". This is... not a strong argument.

The AMP saga has pretty clearly shown that users care about content while Web developers only care about URLs and what goes over the wire. This is a huge disconnect. It doesn't help that many Web developers show no empathy for the users' viewpoint.

Ultimately it probably is easier for Google to add an opt-out to appease a very small, very vocal minority than to educate them that the URL doesn't matter.


You're being downvoted but you're absolutely right, this article is just weak and it's only popular because it voices a popular opinion, but does a very bad job at justifying it.

I fully agree that it should be optional and people who dislike it should be allowed to disable it. But as you mention, the author provide absolutely no real argument other than "it feels wrong".

All user studies so far show that it's a net positive, and I'd rather stick to real data than feelings or anectodes.

I personally love it, but I also agree that those who don't should be allowed to disable it.


Thank you for valid criticism. I've added the following to the post. Hope it clears up my point of view a bit better.

Some people expressed a valid criticism that just saying “doesn’t feel right” is not good enough. While I agree, I don’t have any solid data to back up my argument. I believe AMP (to some extent) is a hack on top of existing browsers and the Web, to create a faster in-browser “browser”. As a result a number of small things (scrolling etc) don’t work on my iPhone as I would normally expect. Considering that this post received over 1000 up-votes on Hacker News, making it one of the top 300 posts of all time, leads me to believe that I am not alone.


That's neither here nor there. Wanting the ability to turn it off is reasonable.


At 43yo I probably belong to the older folks on HN, but those modern devices all of us carry in our pockets to me seem just absolutely incredible and magical. They probably can run around machines that took up whole rooms just a few decades ago.

At the risk of sounding like an old fart (I probably do), I fail to understand this frustration of normal mobile users with the so-called slowness of their mobile experience. To quote CK Lewis: "Give it a second! It’s going to space! Can you give it a second to get back from space!??"


The issue is that the slowness is unnecessary. No, I cannot give it a second when it should only take 100ms. There is such a thing as pride in craft that seems sorely lacking today. I could not live with myself if I had build a quarter of the websites I deal with daily. I don't know all of the causes, but I certainly understand the frustration.


To be fair, though, this applies to most types of products.

If you buy a cheap plastic hammer from a dollar store, you shouldn't expect it to break rocks like a bespoke carbon steel ball-peen.

But if you buy a cheap website from a bottom-barrel contractor, you're allowed to be baffled at why people don't like using it. It's just a website, for crying out loud.


It's the ads. It's always the ads.

The basic stuff loads lightning fast. And then the Javascript ad garbage starts loading. 20 seconds later and 15 domain lookups later, your page finally becomes responsive.

So, what is happening is that AMP is removing everything except Google served ads and that makes everything nice and fast.


Maybe the problem is javascript


It's true of client side rendering in general. If you're targeting mobile and get most of your traffic from search results then you should be looking at aggressively lightweight sites.

* Top bar with a damn small company logo and navigation links. Top bar does not follow the user down the page. Your logo isn't that cool and nobody is using your navigation links half way though an article.

* No fancy or dynamic layouts. No scrolling effects. No bars that follow them down the page. No floating buttons. No animations. No 'expandable' content. No hamburger menus (they're lazy design anyway).

* Minimal CSS. Sane font settings focusing on readability. No web fonts. Use the system default sans serif for the article content.

* Email solicitation exists as an in-band static form at the end of the page (or the beginning if you really can't help yourself).

* Use text placeholders for images and use JS to load them at the request of the user. Or more generally, only use JS to reduce the traffic over the wire.

* (If you must) Use a tracking pixel rather than something like GA or Piwik.


Honestly, one Piwik/GA/whatever is not going to make the page super heavy. The problem happens when a website is managed by an organization where every department adds their own fucking analytics code and the site ends up with like ten fucking trackers.

And yeah, pop-up email solicitation is the worst.


> Use text placeholders for images and use JS to load them at the request of the user.

Or fix browsers so they load the images lazily (which would break tracking pixels located at the bottom of a page).


Except that some popular websites have javascript "plugins" that strip the ads out and aggregate/serve only the content.

Funnily enough, those are almost always blazingly fast.


Maybe the problem is content creators can't monetize easily and, in desperation, go overboard with the ads.


I honestly don't get it. If web is slow on a modern smartphone it's the website's fault


Whether or not we want people to "slow down", that's not how people actually are. The data is overwhelming that even slight (i.e. 100 ms) reductions in speed result in significant losses and bounce rates: https://blog.gigaspaces.com/amazon-found-every-100ms-of-late...


Nitpick but your request is most likely not going to space. You're going to a cell tower that's at most a mile away from you, and that tower is probably linked with fiber and copper to all the routers on the net. Even if for some reason you go through a satellite link it's in earth orbit and not technically 'outer space'. It's still pretty magical but at the end of the day it's just a fancier wireless telegraph.


The person you're replying to just used the space quote as an example of saying "hey, this is frickin' amazing and you're complaining because it takes a second to load‽" And the space part is amazing when it's space and the non-space internet stuff in your pocket is amazing too, and let's not forget it.


> "hey, this is frickin' amazing and you're complaining because it takes a second to load‽

If it takes a second to load it's not amazing now is it.

Also, that "be happy with what you've got" attitude is not helpful. If everyone thought like that we'd still be living in caves. Don't focus on the good stuff, focus on what sucks, that's the stuff that needs fixing. The good stuff doesn't need our attention, it's already good.


On the contrary, we NEED to focus on BOTH the good and bad. If you don't focus on the bad, you won't fix it. If you don't focus on the good, you won't work to protect and preserve it!


Mobiles might have fast CPUs but if you're on a slow mobile connection there's plenty of ways you can write web pages that will stall for many seconds before anything gets rendered.

Especially if you're on the move, having to wait around while a page loads some information you need now is frustrating. There's lots of statistics about how users will abandon websites that don't load quick enough.


It's a resource problem. The average website is in megabytes(that's expensive in emerging markets), loads lots of JavaScript on small devices draining battery.

Even if we take Louis CK's standard, a lot of sites would take more than 10 seconds on 3g. From a webdev point of view this is unacceptable.


What really gets me about the AMP Cache (AMP itself is fine by me) is that it doesn't actually make anything faster. If you time the difference in download speed between the real website AMPd page and AMP Cache URL the difference is almost nothing in 99% of cases. And neither page load gives you that magical instant hit you get on Google's SERPs.

The speed difference on SERPs is the background downloading and (possibly) pre rendering of AMP pages. This functionality could easily be added to browsers, keeping people on their own websites and Google not having control over the content.

We already have <link rel="preload/prefetch"> but how about adding <link rel="prerender" href="http://amp.newswebsite.com/article/etc." />.

This would absolutely give all of the benefits of AMP Cache without Google embracing and extending the web. It's also much simpler to integrate, every single site can choose to benefit from this (not just SERPs) and I don't end up accidentally sending AMP Cache urls to my friends on mobile.


> We already have <link rel="preload/prefetch"> but how about adding <link rel="prerender" href="http://amp.newswebsite.com/article/etc." />.

The goal of AMP is to improve the experience on mobile, making the client prerender instead of Google would be bad for your mobile device battery.


I’m just suggesting a way to improve the mobile experience without breaking the web. There are a multitude of ways to do this and while I see your point about everyone using prerender everywhere (browsers should probably have energy usage by domain and warn against bad actors) it’s surely better than this mess where one company completely controls the mobile web.


I think the goal of AMP is to keep user at Google website and better track his Internet usage history.


The browser does the rendering in all cases; it's not like AMP is downloading a bitmap of the page.



Okay it looks like they are planning to get the origin right eventually by working with browser makers. Good news!


My experience is that all the advantages of AMP can be had by disabling JavaScript while browsing. And this comes with none of the disadvantages of ceding even more control to companies like Google and Facebook.

In my opinion, JavaScript should be disabled by default and only enabled for specific tasks or websites. Not finding exactly what I was looking for in any other browser, I eventually created Privacy Browser on Android. https://www.stoutner.com/privacy-browser/

There are extensions like No Script that can give similar results for other browsers. https://noscript.net/


uMatrix or uBlock (in advanced mode) can largely accomplish the same in a simpler way. However, in my experience, if you go the 'default deny' route against scripts, the spread is about 33/33/33, with 33% of the pages working perfectly, 33% breaking in small ways, and 33% completely borking up. Yes, you can then add the necessary scripts to a whitelist, but it gets tiresome to constantly have to 'fix' sites.


Whitelisting is indeed troublesome, especially in the age of CDNs, and not really worth it for sites visited only once. I discovered that some instances of breakage can be fixed by enabling Firefox "reader view", for others I just start

  chromium --incognito
and paste the link.


Nice


NoScript rocks!!!


AMP has been created for product managers. Everybody in a project knows that slow and bloated pages hurt users, but business requirements are making it impossible to do otherwise. Google AMP solves this problem, in an authoritarian way (hence the outrage), by defining what's good and bad for the Internet.

Marketing has taken the lead in corporate websites projects to the detriment of the end-users, AMP puts the user in the center.


As user, AMP makes my life hell. It made me change nearly two decades of search engine loyalty because Google decided to embrace extend and extinguish. Screw those assholes for breaking the back button, accidentally scrolling to the side, and URLs. I mean, I hate outlook and office with a passion, but the AMP team has somehow produced something even worse: take a monopoly and forced a terrible UI and experience in a huge number of users. Every memeber of the team should be thinking of how they can spin their time at Google as being not related to AMP. Such crap, and such a bad direction for the Google experience.


Exactly. I read a good article where Google is basically admitting to being "bad cop", in other words product managers and devs often try to push back against "please just add my one more shitty ad and pixel tracking library" from marketing and business teams, but AMP gives them the power to just say "sorry, that's not technically possible with AMP".


What some may fail to see is that the Web's success in the smartphone/mobile era is not yet secure. Both Facebook and Apple, among others, have vested interest in treating the Web as competitive threat. I believe AMP was Google's response to Facebook's Instant Articles.

Although there is much to be concerned about Google's ever-expanding reach into the daily life of a good portion of the planet, I think web proponents have more to fear from the likes of FB, Apple, and others appearing on the horizon. These companies are mostly succeeding at meeting current UX expectations (performance, standardization, ease-of-use), and in doing so they are capturing eyeballs away from the web. It's possible some of those who have left for these walled gardens may not return.


The article displays his autocomplete hints:

  google amp pages
  google amp annoying
  google amp sucks
  google amp conference
My equivalents in google.com are:

  test
  cache
  disable
  maps
Both bing.com and duckduckgo.com (which doesn't track) don't recognize "amp", even when I put both first words in quotes, and assume I made a typo in "maps".

This simple test is therefore inconclusive, but my hypothesis is that his search autocomplete hints are, ironically, colored by his search history. The only negative word I got (disabled) is much more neutral.

Now that I think about it, duckduckgo's "no tracking" isn't just valuable for privacy. It's also valuable for consistent search results across computers without yielding even more information (logging in etc). A few times I made a query and found something useful and surprising, and then I wasn't able to replicate the query on another computer to show someone else. In any case I'd hate to miss a rare interesting page because Google thought that extra 10 pages about Linux might interest me more.


Try going into Incognito Mode and searching from google.com. When I do that, I get pages, annoying, sucks, and conference.

Actually, I get those same results in or out of Incognito Mode, but it's possible your search history is coloring your results.


Same results in and out of incognito mode :-|


Weird. I suppose results may depend on our geographical locations.


I get google amp .. pages, annoying, disable on mobile safari. I've never searched for google amp before and generally don't search for anything that would encourage that. An option to disable would be good. Don't see what the big deal is. Doubt many people would use it, but technical folks would probably like it.

Why this was voted up to top on HN is weird. Even if enabled by Google, won't have any impact.


I'm starting to hate AMP for one simple reason: it breaks the back button on my Android phone. Like, what the hell? Didn't we do this dance over 10 years ago? Do we really have to keep circling the same drain over and over and over again?


Can you say how? Works fine for me: If I'm on Google search results, tap on an AMP article, and then hit back, I'm back on search results. If I'm on an AMP article, and I tap through to the host site, and then hit back, I'm back on the AMP article (and hitting back again takes me to my original search results page). Works exactly as expected for me.


I would if I knew the precise steps. The past few weeks I've been googling all kinds of DIY projects, and I can't count the number of times I'd google something, get an AMP article, hit back once and end up on a previous google search and not the page that linked this article.


I never really understood why google amp is bad. Can anyone explain the reason why people think its ethically bad?


From my perspective as a browser developer, AMP is an unfortunate disincentive to make anything faster unless Chrome already did it. Google bans things that are slow in Chrome from AMP, even if there's no good reason for them to be slow in the first place.

An example is off-main-thread animations. There's no intrinsic reason why animating, say, background-color should be slow. A lot of sites empirically do this sort of thing. But that animation is banned in AMP [1], because it's slow in Chrome (and in other browsers). Even if I work on making it faster, it'll stay banned until Chrome catches up (due to Chrome's market share), thus negating the incentive to make it faster in the first place. Without this competition, Web developers and users lose.

[1]: https://www.ampproject.org/docs/reference/components/amp-ani...


>Can anyone explain the reason why people think its ethically bad

This is just one of many reasons, but try this on a mobile phone.

Go to Google and search for "Trump"

Note what choices you have to pick from without excessive scrolling. They all end in either ads or Google urls.

Click one of the featured stories in the carousel, almost guaranteed to be an AMP site. Seems to be a prerequisite to sit in the carousel.

Lets say you land on a Washington Post story. What do you think a "right swipe" should do? Should it navigate to a competitor of Wapo? This is Wapo's page, right? So it should go to another Wapo page. Nope, it goes to Fox News.

Okay, so now you've navigated from Wapo to say Fox News. Hit the back button. It should go back to the Wapo story, right? Nope, goes back to Google.

How this isn't viewed as a land grab is a mystery to me.


For some reason I'm not experiencing the same at all.

I googled "Trump". First five stories in carousel (wapo, bbc et all) are not AMP. I see only one AMP link in the first page results. Click on it, page loads. Swipe right/back button gets me to Google results (as expected). Is it because I'm on an iPhone and this is an Android thing?


Not an iPhone issue - https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=trump returns. I thing but amp pages I’ve the carousel or the first page of results other than the links to Wikipedia and his Twitter page.

Same search though ddg with !g comes out completely different though....


what is this right-swipe business? You swipe and it, what, just takes you to a page that the makers of the current page think you should read next in your infinite time-sink staring at your phone‽


Well, in this case the makers of the previous page (Google) are deciding what right swipe on the current page (Washington Post) does.

It certainly makes it clear that the content owner of an AMP page is not the page owner.


I get that, but what is right-swipe supposed to or expected to do? Why would people be right-swiping ever?


Many reasons. A popular one would be to flip through a gallery of photos related to the story. That one's VERY common.

Also, I missed mentioning the [X] button on the AMP header banner. I bet that most end users think that [X] button should make the AMP banner disappear, while leaving the page content there. Pretty common pattern, like for the EU cookie warning. That's not what it does, though.

Back to the "right swipe", at the very least, it should do nothing, assuming that an AMP page belongs to the publisher.


> I bet that most end users think that [X] button should make the AMP banner disappear, while leaving the page content there. Pretty common pattern,

Dark petterns, MS, google, facebook etc. It's becoming the norm for the behemoth corporations to do this.


Ok, sure. Going through a slide-show makes total sense. So, you're saying that there's no normal behavior on a plain website for swiping right (yes? I don't use mobile much myself), but AMP adds a Google-centric swipe-right function regardless of whether there would otherwise be no swipe-right function or some other expected one. Am I understanding now?


Yes, that's it. Google hijacks the back button, swipes, and the [X] button on the AMP banner...in favor of Google, and to the detriment of the publisher.


That is indeed horrible. I am glad to learn that there isn't otherwise some new trend of people constantly right-swiping for no apparent reason though.


Thank you! I’ve been wondering what this AMP fiasco was all about when I have never seen such a site. It turns out I have developed banner-blindness on the Google search results. I have always scrolled to the “real” first result without ever considering the ads and carousels.


Also, before there was no guarantee that the organic results would contain Google ads as publishers could relatively easily find higher CPM payouts elsewhere.

Well, with AMP, the the mobile results are basically ads, then AMP results which are guaranteed to have Google ads. So the percentage of searches makes Google money increases while similar reducing revenue from competitive ad networks who are not approved.


So in other words, ad blockers should block Google's "Top Stories" ?


The argument that swipe behavior should be entirely within the control of the publisher feels like an oversimplification. Plenty of UI elements are designed to work at a higher level of scope than the document: back, bookmark list, [X] button, home button, etc.


Yes, I did mention how Google hijacks the back button on AMP pages as well. The point being that AMP is a walled garden to serve Google's needs...not an honest effort to make sites perform better.

You mention the [X] button. How many end users do you suppose think that the [X] on the AMP header bar should make the header bar go away...versus functioning like a back button, going all the way back to the google search? I suspect they are conditioned by things like the EU cookie warnings that an [X] on a header bar makes it go away.

An AMP page you reach from a Google search is Google's page, period. It's not the publisher's page. And that's no accident or side effect. It's the whole point. Performance is a secondary concern.


I'm not commenting on "ethics", but I can say why I dislike AMP as a user: I want to interact directly with a website, not through some third party. I especially don't want that third party observing my interactions or collecting data about them. I also don't want to allow that third party to run code (javascript) on my computer.

As a website designer (barely), basically the same reasons: I don't want my site under control of a third party, I don't want my users to have to run javascript to view my site, and I don't want them to have to consent to (possibly) being tracked. Most ironically, my site probably accomplishes more of the stated AMP goals (due to being pure html and light) than it would when AMPed up.

Quick edit: I also worry it can contribute to breaking or obfuscating hyperlinks, which is similar to the issue raised in this article. Having hyperlinks work correctly is crucial to the design of the web. I had similar problems when sites like Google search started making their search links redirect to some intermediate site before going to the actual link, and back when I used Google search I had an extension that removed them so I could e.g. right-click and copy the link.


Given that most of the web has Google analytics installed, I'm pretty sure all of the above is happening with or without amp.


I just want to mention (1) I view this as a bad thing and think we ought to try to move away from it; (2) I whitelist javascript so at least not all of the above is happening to me, and I think we ought to move toward all users having the tools and competence to do the same.


I just use https://www.eff.org/privacybadger

Probably not 100%, but it's better than nothing. And having people install a plugin is easy enough.


Goes against the notion of decentralized web.

The content that user gets on their browser is cached content hosted on Google's servers.

The URL that is shown in the location bar is `www.google.com/amp/<site>`.

The rapid adoption is primarily due to fear of being left behind in Google's search ranking.

As the blog states, it drives mobile views away from the site whose content is being shown (some call it stealing).

On occasions I've seen more "Suggested Content" on an AMP page than the actual site.

From what I've read, AMP came as a response to Facebook's instant articles not primarily driven from user needs.


Leaving aside the lock-in issues, AMP causes me minor annoyances more often than it helps. For instance, when I open a search result from a site like Reddit, I get a static logged-out view, instead of the normal one that obeys my preferences. And if I want to copy the link, it takes a few extra taps to get the original one.


I still don't understand why Reddit signed up, it's a terrible experience for their users. I commonly search 'reddit x' when I want an opinion and know there will be a sub Reddit, but now Reddit have made that use case incredibly bad by enabling AMP.


I'd imagine a notoriously cash-strapped site like Reddit is enthusiastic that Google is willing to offload traffic originating from Google Search on Mobile to Google's own AMP CDN. This helps incidental visitors still consume Reddit content, while real Reddit users interacting with real website or through a Reddit app are still getting the normal experience. This arrangement only really frays at edge cases, where a logged-in Reddit user uses an external search like Google to look something up.


>I still don't understand why Reddit signed up

Sign up, or face the reduced google referral traffic as AMP-only carousel results push the organic results below the fold.


Yeah, encountering pages that are less useful than the or original or outright broken is a big reason for me.


Because the disadvantages (vendor lock-in, not as open, etc) outweigh the advantages (lighter pages, which you can just do without AMP anyway).


But people don't, that's the point of AMP.


If Google prioritized pages which didn't run ads and CPU sucking scripts, people would. Its entirely in their control.


how does AMP provide vendor lock-in?


Because now there's a big back button as well as a browser back button both back to Google, instead of just a browser back button and a menu to explore the rest of the site.

Google is no longer neutral, they own those users, not you.


It isn't. I fully agree with the article that it should be optional, but it's hilarious how the only reason the author can give is that it "doesn't feel right".

They state "I just automatically go to the main url" without giving any real reason for it. They also mention how all studies show that it's a huge positive for users. And it is. It's much faster and easier way to browse content. You can try to shit on Google, but the reality is that people sucked at making fast content, so someone had to step in and no one was.


All else being equal, disabling ads and other javascript bs will speed up most websites, so if Google really cared about speed, they would (also) boost sites which didn't show ads and didn't rely heavily on JS. AMP is about keeping users on google's properties by using content that they didn't create.


Worth reading the HN posts linked in the article. IMO it's a band-aid for a larger problem - a problem that Google is now incentivised not to address through less hegemonic means.


Not really an expert, but I don't see any good in strengthening Google's monoculture.


If that's the argument everyone should boycott all Google products.


Very true, but you can start with the egregious violations such as AMP.


Or just not use new ones that actively make the internet worse.


Plus pageviews are done on Google's servers, so Bing doesn't know which website has many views and which doesn't.


How does Bing know it for non-AMP views?


A lot of websites would have a bing ads tracking Javascript.


You're right - Bing can't. Google knows a website's pageviews because it can cleverly cross information between the search engine, Google Analytics and Google Map's by-foot frequentation of shops (for shops and customers with tracking allowed). I'm just underlining that not owning a good share of all 3 of those may make it much harder for future competitors to enter the market.


Apart from everything else, in the last few weeks I've seen a bunch of AMP pages that include at most the first few paragraphs, possibly just a photo or something, and a "read more on our website" link below. This is strictly worse than a world with no AMP: I have to load the AMP page, and then I have to load the real website.

Because of that I'm starting to seriously wonder if Google is going to end up declaring AMP a failed project (and, being Google, the prior probability was reasonably high in the first place), and then AMP is an uncleanable stain on the web, with www.google.com/amp/ URLs being kept around forever.


Do you also use the argument about Microsoft being Microsoft and shutting down more products and services than Google ever has?


> Can anyone explain the reason why people think its ethically bad?

There is also some discussion over here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14518985

And more links in these articles:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/19/open_source_insider...

https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/05/20/gilbertson-amp

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