Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Why I’m done with Chrome (cryptographyengineering.com)
2357 points by user982 on Sept 23, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 838 comments

Google started going down the path I would describe as an "evil" path years ago. I'm glad people are starting to notice. I used to be a huge Google advocate, up until about 2008. So many things have changed since then.

Adsense was the first breach in trust for me, when they banned my account for no reason and ruined any chance of every monetizing my content...since they are basically a monopoly in that area. Getting off their blacklist, is literally impossible.

Then came Chrome and Android, which grew to collect so much information on people that it was genuinely baffling.

Then my agency work and work with previous Google employees telling me about Google sales tactics to SMBs in Adwords. Intentionally not focusing on ROI because they knew the companies had such high burn out rates. They would, and continue, to milk them for whatever they are worth. They know the company is statistically going to go out of business in a year, so just take them for whatever they are worth! Luckily agencies act as a middle man, if not for that, the abuse would be so much more widespread. But if you deal directly with Google ad sales (and this is something I never knew existed tbh) they will intentionally screw you if you are under a certain spend.

Now they have growing and creeping monopolies in advertising, and their only real competitors are Amazon and Facebook... which to me are both on or near the level of sleaze that Google has crept to.

Now things are accelerating, with Chrome's increasing intrusion, Android's increasing intrusion, deals with Chinese governments to stifle freedom of expression and speech. Google AMP being a closed system that's only goal is to push Google into controlling more of the web.

Add to that, let me preface that I am not a Trump voter and never will be and probably lean more towards the politics of Google leadership, but the video that leaked out (it sucks it leaked to nutty Brietbart and not a real new organization, maybe it would have been taken a lot more seriously) of the Google town hall also baffled me. I think Facebook might even take their moral obligation of objectivity more seriously than Google...and that's a serious problem. Algorithms can determine electoral outcomes, and Google is one of the top tech lobbyists in Washington. Doesn't that bother anyone?

This is no longer a company I can advocate anyone using. Unfortunately because of their monopoly status in advertising I have to deal with them.

I'll add my very recent negative experience with Google. I have a couple of apps on the Google Play that use Firebase analytics and crash reporting. This weekend both apps were removed by Google without any warnings. The issue was that apps were in "Violation of Usage of Android Advertising ID" because by default Firebase collects Advertising ID. I don't really need Advertising ID in my app or my analytics and there is a way to opt out [1], but I think the way Google handled this is just wrong. Collecting information that most people probably don't care about and then removing apps without notice for basically their own default configuration.

[1] https://firebase.google.com/support/guides/disable-analytics

We (software agency) had the same problem, a simple app with just basic Google libraries was violating their own privacy rules.

Any examples of those rules and how they were violated?

Im just curious

Some more details - https://www.reddit.com/r/androiddev/comments/9gqr6y/anybody_.... The emails from Google Play are never very specific so you can only guess what's wrong :-).

You should appeal if what you're saying is indeed true. You're supposed to use advertising ID for any ad-related tracking - if you use something more sensitive instead (like IMEI) then you'll get taken down.

GDPR issue?

> Collecting information that most people probably don't care about

I care about that information and I’m glad they removed your apps, maybe now you’ll start taking privacy more seriously.

I think you misunderstood my comment. I don't want to collect that information. All I need is anonymous crash stacks and possibly some general statistics (number of users on various app versions and Android versions). Google was collecting extra information without me even being aware of it, until they removed my apps for the store. I want to collect as minimum information as possible for me to effectively maintain the apps. I have no use for personal information or any identifiers. But Google probably wants it and that's why Firebase collects it by default.

> Google was collecting extra information without me even being aware of it

I think the point is that you should be aware of it. It is your application after all. Yes, what Google does is weird, but the app developer needs to be more careful in general what 3rd party code they load.

On the other hand, I understand you. Probably you do your due diligence when you load some random dependency but you (like everyone else) used to expect better from Google. Not anymore I guess.

I mean, if you use a google library that uses a specific google feature, it’s kind of fair to assume that it’s not a violation of their privacy policy.

You don't get to act clueless if one of the libraries that you added to your application collects data without asking the user. I already said what Google does is weird.

The issue is that Google are shipping something with a default configuration that violates their own policy, then blaming the user of it

Search for "gun rights" in Google, and the Wikipedia feature box on the top-right of the results page is the Gun Control article.

I've noticed the straight search results making a marked decline in quality over the past few months. If one of the keywords within your search is anything remotely profitable, it will drown out all other terms. Then the search results ended after ~4 pages.

Definitely changed from the Google I "grew up on."

> Search for "gun rights" in Google, and the Wikipedia feature box on the top-right of the results page is the Gun Control article.

That could have a very simple explanation: There is no Wikipedia page for "Gun Rights". There is however a Wikipedia page for "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" which is exactly what appears in the Wikipedia box on the right or as the first Wikipedia article when you search for "right to bear arms", "right to guns" and "arms rights".

> That could have a very simple explanation: There is no Wikipedia page for "Gun Rights".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_rights is a valid link, and seems like the obvious wikipedia page to deem relevant for that phrase. And Bing gets it right.

I have no reason to think it's some dark conspiracy, but it's certainly a pretty silly failure of their vaunted algorithms. Are there a lot of searches for common phrases where a Wikipedia page exists and Google returns a different Wikipedia page as the top item?

It's a bit like searching for "USA" and getting a result for "Canada"; just because the canonical wikipedia URL is "United_states" doesn't mean that a page about a different country is more relevant. :)

It’s not a conspiracy when emails leaked of employees discussing how they could put their thumb on the scales of sensitive political topics

It is a conspiracy, if there’s proof of a conspiracy.

Put a finger on the scales, show us how it’s done.

Modeling this behavior, without tilting the scales completely is perhaps impossible.

I’m interested in seeing how such code could work, while scaling and not creating artifacts. I can’t think of anyway for such code to be deployed without breaking search and letting attackers gain even more

> it's certainly a pretty silly failure of their vaunted algorithms.

I totally agree, it could be as simple as the algorithm finding more usages of 'gun' and 'rights' on the Gun Control page than on the Right to Bear Arms page and basing its decision solely off that. However it could be as complex as skewed data in a deep learning model that takes in every users search term and subsequent selected result. No one really knows exactly how its decided except Google's own engineers.

The fact that most other, very similar search terms provide the expected results suggests to me that it is not an intentional misdirection, otherwise the other search terms about guns would also show the Gun Control page.

There is a "Gun Rights" page on Wikipedia (at least that's the slug,) Bing pulls it to the top of the results for that same query (along with advocacy groups.) While Google puts "Gun Control" at the top right. So, I see OP's point. I do have a hard time believing that is purely algorithmic.

Or, it's a well-trained algo. Either way.

"Well" "trained", indeed.

I think you, and others, seem to ignore that deep learning bots produce what the data contains. The data maybe be skewed in one direction or another, as in, it may be the case that most content is for gun control and most users seek gun control content.

The philosophical question is if a search engine return what people want or should return return what is most biased for truth and informative.

> I think you, and others, seem to ignore that deep learning bots produce what the data [and the rules it uses] contains.

The bot uses data, sure, but like the humans it also--

* Chooses what data it uses based on... * The rules that make up its processing which in turn are... * Influenced by the peculiarities of its creator(s).

Those last two can't be emphasized enough. A subject matter expert, for example, will choose data differently from a layman, who will choose data differently from someone completely ignorant on the subject. Someone driven to keep certain data suppressed will choose data differently from someone driven to research the matter, who in turn will choose data differently than someone wholly disinterested in the topic. Unless a person builds a bot with a 'willingness' to question both its data and its own programming (and perhaps even its creator) to present the best linkage the web has to offer, all bots will be mere dummy proxies of the creator programming it.

As of you could decide either... even optimsing in good faith for either outcome could have serious drawbacks as we may be seeing here.

You are wrong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_keep_and_bear_arms

This is coming right up when you look for "gun rights" on DuckDuckGo.

That's the top Wikipedia link in the search results when searching for "gun rights"

I don't see the issue.

He's not saying it's an issue that "right to keep and bear arms" is the top result on Bing/DuckDuckGo...it's that on Google it's not, it's "Gun Control" which is not the top result on Wikipedia nor is it necessarily a related term. The top organic result on Google is a tag page from NPR. How is that even possible for such a popular topic? That's something you'd expect from a rare term.

I know what he said, and I'm saying that the top Google result for Wikipedia was that entry in the organic results. As for everything else you said, it's meaningless.

But the top Wikipedia article (if you use Wiki's own search tool for that term) is not what Google showed...so I don't think you do.

DuckDuckGo gives you this https://www.nationalgunrights.org/ as the first result with this being the first wikipedia resulthttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_keep_and_bear_arms along with news articles about gun rights.

I'm not sure I could define it as intentional and nefarious but I definitely find Google search results to be markedly worse over the last few years. It used to be really competent at finding specialist/technical results but lately it's gotten more generic and less useful. It's possible that's actually the nature of content creation these days, with everyone hyper optimising to please the Google search algorithm. But it's resulting in a less useful web for me. Certainly a less interesting one.

Same thing with Youtube, the algorithms seem to optimize for the lowest common denominator and all the interesting niche stuff is lost in thr noise.

Some of the solution is to do a better job of actively searching for good content instead of waiting for the algorithms to recommend it. But that itself has gotten harder too. Finding good content curators is hard.

Agreed - Particularly infuriating, is Google’s habit of returning search results with many missing terms, implying that they know whats best for me- ignoring a large part of my precisly crafted search input. I know there is Verbatim option, but this is another slow step and does not work in combination with valuable time filter. Wish there was an option to always use Verbatim and more default time filters such as 3 months, 6 months.

Absolutely. That is one of my biggest pet peeves. There must be a threshold where it would rather give you well ranked but worse matching results over low-ranked but well matching results. That threshold seems to be too low hence the generic garbage results for really specific terms.

I believe a major reason for the widely observed decline in Google's SERP quality is that SEOs got too good at gaming the system. The Panda and Penguin updates a few years ago kicked off a trend of prioritizing content from highly authoritative domains (e.g. big brands) even when that content is less relevant to your search query.

Google has been doubling down on this direction progressively--their justification being that people game the long tail by producing a lot of low quality, highly niched content.

There may be no real solution to this within the context of Google's PageRank-inspired algorithm and this may be an opportunity for disruption.

I can definitely see that being part of the issue. Having been a dev in the boiler room for a few heavy SEO reliant domains, it was remarkable the kind of low quality articles people would spin and Google would eat up, especially before Penguin and Panda. The blame can't all be put on Google, the SEO industry is a dirty place that consistently pushed out small producers of genuine content in order to make a buck.

It has become harder & harder to find videos on YouTube you know exist. Feels like the algorithm i geared to find new content rather to find what I'm looking for.

Interesting. I have the opposite experience. Searching to try and find _new_ content just presents me with videos/playlists I usually have already clicked/watched.

That is what my YouTube home screen looks like, old already viewed content, however not the old vidoes that I need again.

I get this too.

It's bizarre to see "video you watched 4 times 5 years ago" on your homepage. Every day.

Basically all the results these days are just from news articles on other sites.

Regarding the "Gun Rights" fact box, the different results Bing and Google use here looks to be the results of an edit war[1] over how the page should redirect.

Judging by the text in the box, Google appears to be using a snapshot possibly around June 2018[2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gun_rights&action...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gun_control&oldid...

I don't see a redirect to "Gun Control" in the page history. It is currently a redirect to "Right to Keep and Bear Arms", yes; but before that, it was a disambiguation page that had a brief explanation of various meanings, and links to several other, more detailed pages. So if Google captured that, shouldn't it be linking to that disambiguation page?

Even then, one could imagine that the Google could somehow detect that it is not a particularly informative page, and pick the most likely disambiguation link out of it. Logically speaking, that would be first link in the list. But before the page was changed to be a pure redirect, it had the following blurb at the very beginning:

   The term "'''Gun rights'''" may refer to:

   * The legal concept of the [[right to keep and bear arms]]

   * [[Gun control]], the set of laws or policies that regulate the
     manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use
     of firearms by civilians.

So, why would the algorithm pick the second link, specifically? And why hasn't it re-indexed the page since?

FWIW, I don't think this is the case of deliberate changing of search results. But I suspect that their algorithm is inadvertently picking up bias from somewhere else, and applying it here.

Is there a good site out there to analyze "edit war" pages of wikipedia?

I've always been curious of locked topics to see some type of analytics breakdown. The most hotly edited items are generally the things I'd most like to see surfaced.

Also, google shows the "Right to keep and bear arms" wikipedia article on the second place, however it adds "Jump to Gun violence and the politics of the right to bear arms" link.

When asked "gun rights", google added the link to the only section of the article discussing gun violence. They obviously manipulate their search results pushing political BS :-(

Search for "american inventors" if you want to have some laughs.

If you search for "United States inventors" you get the list you were probably expecting.

Google seems to like to include results appropriate for common phrases if you include only part of the phrases. My guess is that the "american" in "american inventors" brings in results for "african american inventors" too.

Apparently this has been going on at least since 2016: http://www.unz.com/isteve/great-moments-in-google-american-i...

wtf whyy

EDIT: To clarify, why is that list so bad?

Imagine you were searching for 'american basketball player' and the selected individuals were predominately white. And on top of this you had guys like let's say Mike Dunleavy Jr. placed ahead of Michael Jordan for no apparent reason. Do you think this would be appropriate?

It's not organic; Google has editorialised it in a racist way.

Yes, I have noticed that google search result are much worse the past three months, even for non political stuff. Top ten results are usually from big media corporations.

I was searching for an exact phrase in quotes the other day, which happened to be close - but not the same - as a popularly monetisable phrase.

The entire results were full of the other phrase and not the one I searched for.

I kinda hate AI.

(Because it's dumb. Do what I told you, not what you think I want)

I thought I'd try it..


槍枝管制 "gun rights"的圖片搜尋結果 槍支管制是指任何對定義、限制或限制擁有,生產或改裝,進口,運輸,銷售和/或使用槍械的法律,政策,實踐或提案。 槍支管制的法律和政策在世界各地有很大的差異。有些國家,如英國和中華民國,擁有非常嚴格的槍支限制政策,而其他國家,如美國,有相對溫和的限制。槍支管制的支持者普遍認為,普遍民眾擁有槍支會導致危險性。 維基百科


Gun control Search results for "gun rights" Gun control refers to any law, policy, practice or proposal that defines, restricts or limits the possession, production or modification, import, transportation, sale and/or use of firearms. The laws and policies governing gun control vary widely around the world. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom and the Republic of China, have very strict gun restrictions, while others, such as the United States, have relatively modest restrictions. Proponents of gun control generally believe that the widespread possession of guns can be dangerous. Wikipedia

Aren't these two statements a bit contradictory? e.g., the suggestion that they've editorialised "gun rights" to something (control) that would lead to less profitable results, but the statement that they doctor their setup to favour commercial enterprise?

This will mostly depend on whether your geoip returns a blue swamp or a red swamp.

I wonder if you're in your own filter bubble.

As in, if some full blown NRA guy searched gun rights, what would he get?

Logged out of any Google account from a work IP address (not used for much personal searching) and I get the same result.

Info cards are not influenced by your account's history as far as I know. They are purely programmed by a combination of bots and hand tweaked responses. The hand tweaked responses come from a combination of user complaints/requests and internal pushes by engineers.

Gun control = gun rights. Just a different, and more popular and common, way of looking at it.

Perhaps in Europe, but not in the US. If someone is searching "gun rights" in the US, it is very unlikely they are wanting to know about gun control.

Might just be more web pages about profitable products?

Also the people selling things via their webpages are very much more likely to be investing effort in SEO than "non commercial" web pages...

(And, as much as Matt Cutts might deny it, it seems inconceivable that Google do not use revenue generated by advertising as a search signal...)

That's part of the issue, but Google also automatically extends your search terms with words that it believes are relevant to your search. I will also give certain words a higher relevance based on what ti believes you are really searching for. Unfortunately this often leads to search result pages full of entirely irrelevant results, while pages containing the exact words in your search term are few and far between, if they are shown at all.

This is my biggest gripe with Google's search engine. It used to be that you could specify exactly what you want to get and it would find it for you. Now it thinks it knows what I want better than I do, so it refuses to show me things I know exist and that every other search engine will find with very simple, straight-forward search terms.

Search for "gun rights" in Google, and the Wikipedia feature box on the top-right of the results page is the Gun Control article.

It is known that Google employees have the capability to skew search results politically, just not whether they do it in specific circumstances (of course it would be robustly denied)


(For those that say “good” remember that tomorrow this could be used against you. I am certain it was used against Bernie for example)

> I am certain it was used against Bernie for example

That would be important if it were true. Can you back it up?

Just a suspicion based on Eric Schmidt being so involved with Hillary’s campaign. But the link I posted shows that there are no technical barriers to doing it, and that doing it is openly discussed within Google

You are certain? Or, are you suspicious? Those are pretty different statements. And it seems you lack evidence to back either one.

> Luckily agencies act as a middle man, if not for that, the abuse would be so much more widespread

I ran such an agency. As someone who is proficient in PPC, the AdSense sales team was inexcusably poor at their jobs. They'd offer to setup campaigns for free with thousands of barely relevant keywords and would push upping the budget past what was reasonable.

Their tactics were so bad for my clients that I stopped accepting their "free" help and did the campaigns in house. I hate to think how many agencies simply went along with their advice to the detriment of their clients.

If what I've been told by people that used to work on those very Google Adwords teams, it's not that they are "bad" at their job, it's that they are meant to meet a certain quota of spend and nothing like ROI etc matters. What's the solution to campaign doing badly? Up the budget! They know it's not optimal, their managers know it's not optimal, but the goal is for Google's bottom line. This stops once you reach a certain spend tier and they know the burn out rates for those companies improve and they want the longer term revenues. (This is also good for larger agencies, since they will also get the good treatment from being a premier partner.) The lower tier spends are basically "boiler rooms" peddling fake penny stocks. People trust them because "It's Google!" but that is so so far from the truth. Sometimes it's not even Google, it's a company they've outsourced to, and sometimes they even work in the same building as Google.

Yes, I figured as much. I'm sure the reps were "just doing their jobs", but the result was poor service/advice as you mention.

Doing there jobs basically entails increasing your spend: whether by broadening your keyword phrases, adding irrelevant keywords, expanding your geo-location region, or increasing your bids.

Worse is when you get billed for clicks for inactive campaigns, even ones that were never enabled.

You seem to mean AdWords (now Google Ads). AdSense is for publishers.

Yes, good catch!

Yes, the intention behind Chrome was very obvious pretty much from the start: it has to benefit Google by giving its web services an advantage over competition. I wrote about that seven years ago: https://adblockplus.org/blog/google-chrome-and-pre-installed...

I used to think that google today is like microsoft back in the late 90s and early 00s but your comment makes me think it might be even worse.

Google already bullies hardware vendors that don't package Google services with Android devices...which is what Microsoft did in the 90s. They also bundle all their services...which is essentially the very thing that Microsoft ended up getting slapped for. Google gets a way with a lot. Apple does too, but Apple's reach is limited to when you leave their hardware, Google's is always with you. You can't escape unless you are just a very very savvy user, and even then they can still get your data at the most basic level using GCS.

I really really wish Microsoft or someone outside of the duopoly, were more powerful in the mobile and search space so people had a choice. I do have an Android phone, but only because Apple is so locked down that I essentially have to use their services, and I don't use Google services outside of their store...but I know just by having an Android phone Google is tracking me.

As for advertisers, I know for a fact that some SMBs/agencies don't serve on Bing, not because the traffic isn't there...but because it's hard to manage so many bids and pacing in so many different platforms. Google makes it so simple, even if the ROI is slightly lower by not using Bing, etc. It's maddening, it is certainly a very monopolistic company.

>Apple is so locked down that I essentially have to use their services

I want to touch on this because in my experience this is less true than it seems on the surface.

The contacts app and calendar app support carddav/caldav respectively- photos use the standard camera interface (mpd?) the things that suck are that you need to use Xcode to develop for it, and you need iTunes to put music on the default music player app (however using plex w/ sync has been my cross platform solution for a while- and honestly I don’t know many people who aren’t using Spotify)

Am I missing something?

You're not, really.

On the one hand I understand the complaints about Apple's "walled garden," but I've pretty effortlessly connected to both Google Calendar and Exchange services. (And I don't use Apple's own Calendar app anyway, although I configure the calendars through the iOS system preferences so they integrate with all the Apple stuff relatively gracefully.) I do file syncing with Dropbox, which integrates with Apple's Files app pretty nicely as of iOS 11. I keep passwords in 1Password, which always integrated fairly well with iOS and does even better as of iOS 12. I get a lot of ebooks in DRM-free ePub format from various vendors and can just open them directly in iBooks. (I suppose using iTunes is still a problem, although iTunes Match and, now, Apple Music actually made syncing pretty painless for me. After the initial pain of moving from iTunes Match, which worked great, to Apple Music, which did...not...work great for its first year. But I digress.)

More apropos to the linked post, I trust Apple with my data rather more than most companies I deal with. They not only don't treat it as a profit center, they seem to prefer to minimize the amount of personally-identifiable and unencrypted information they deal with. I do still use some Google services, but I prefer to use Apple's equivalents when possible -- and I've been using Safari instead of Chrome for years. A lot of people think I'm nuts for that, but occasionally I feel a bit vindicated...

You don't have to use Google services with Android either.

For years I've used an Android phone with no Google account attached - I simply skipped the OOB assistant and then created an account pointing on my company's Exchange, where all my mail/calendaring/contacts were. For maps, I used Sygic, which you can purchase outside Play Store.

Yes, I did lose Google Play, Youtube, Hangouts, but exactly that was the intent - not using Google services. Today, it would be even easier, with the existence F-Droid providing third-party apps.

F-Droid prompts me every day about app updates, even when there are none (it seems) and even when I've said not to give me notifications like that.

Had to uninstall DNS66 and F-Droid because of it.

My biggest complaint is that I have to use Siri and can't change it to another AI assistant. I can't use a different launcher, etc. I will openly admit to being a Microsofty (just a user, not an employee) and want to use Microsoft based services like Cortana since all of my information is synced that way. Yes I can use Cortana on iOS, but Siri is always there as the default. With Android I can turn the Google assistant off entirely and make Cortana the default.

I'm fairly annoyed on Android that I can't uninstall some stock Google apps.

I have good hopes that pwa+wasm will change that. What killed windows mobile is the lack of apps. In a world where you have performant apps, that are completely os independant, and do not even need to be distributed through a gated store, it makes it a lot easier for a challenger to break through.

Not a chance IMO. One major reason why native apps work is platform integration - both from an HCI perspective as well as a technology one. PWA and WASM will never be able to achieve these things.

I am sure certain apps need that integration but what is the percentage of apps that matter in your opinion?

Google bullies hardware vendors, Apple is its own hardware vendor. That is the essential difference. If MS had done their thing only with hardware they made and sold, instead of twisting the arms of third parties they’d have been OK. There is a qualitative difference between dictating the terms of something you alone build and sell, and using your market dominance to dictate terms to everyone else.

I don't disagree. I really would love for Microsoft to make the "Microsoft Store" accept Android apps and launch a Surface Phone line that only they control...and if it takes off maybe OEMs could join in, if not, fine. I feel like they are the only company that can successfully do it...but even then Google services are so coupled with Android games/apps...and it doesn't solve the "walled garden" problem. Microsoft would still have a walled garden, which I'm generally against. I don't know the solution, but I certainly do not like the current duopoly or the problem of the walled garden. Maybe there could be two stores, one from the Microsoft repo and one that is a "Sideload store" that is just listings but the apps are hosted elsewhere to remove any legal implications for Microsoft or whoever.

i too would love to see ms take 'phone' seriously, and do a surface phone line similar to iphone. own the hardware stack top to bottom. we need a third major force to offset apple/google, and MS is one of the few that could fill that gap.

they did finally start to take ownership of experience with the surface stuff, and I'm tempted to move back to that world in 2019 with a surface book of some stripe.

>i too would love to see ms take 'phone' seriously

Nadella won't because of MS hate.

Lots of naive developers are drunk on the false open source android story and won't apps for their OS - e.g. snapchat founder refused to build an app for WP. And kept sending take down notices for community built clients. This is why MS keeps pursing web apps and "universal apps."

Ms spent at billions in payment (bribes) to developers to build WP apps, yet.

Microsoft of today would never have created Windows. They have tried and failed multiple times to turn Windows into a store only OS.

Their OS was unjailbreakable far more so than IOS. WP's inability to share apps is the major reason why WP failed in my own country. Even till today, people still beam android / windows apps.

Windows 10 auto updates is another clue that MS is clueless about data costs. I'll bet, more people left Windows for autoupdating than for being insecure.

AFAIR, they weren't doing WP on their own hardware. The end user experience on various WP was (as with many android devices) a mixed bag. Coupled with being perceived as 'late to the game', and people wanting to jump on the app-bandwagon but not having enough resources... WP never got mindshare.

PERSONALLY... I think MS could mount another shot at the phone market - but they'd have to be serious, commit long term, and be willing to lose out $ for a while to gain marketshare.

I don't recall them spending billions on getting WP apps built. If anything, the anecdotes I heard were mixed - both cheap funding of lots of stupid one-off apps to try to inflate numbers, but cheaping out on funding for established apps with existing users/communities. In neither case did I ever read about billions being spent in those pursuits.

Again, I think there's probably one more chance MS has to make a run for this - new leadership since the ballmer days, commitment to manage their own hardware, and a public commitment to long-term investment in that ecosystem... - lots of folks are waking up to the privacy issues in mobile - apple has a story, google doesn't have a terribly good one. Lots of smaller/secondtier players in ios world are fed up with 30% fees. MS could address privacy and fee issues, and attract/keep new market. But... we don't want another 'playsforsure/zune' situation. :/

>MS could address privacy and fee issues

I don't think privacy is a mass market appeal. Here's an experiment you could do. Stop a few random persons on the road or on the train and ask their opinion about equivax, Cambridge Analytica, and Chrome's recent privacy violations and I'm sure you'll get blank stares on 90 out of 100 people.

As for developer fees - the jumping CEO reduced the app registration fee. No one noticed. He gave the OS for free - OEMs didn't bite.

Nadella recently reduced the their store fee from 30% to 15%. And you didn't know about it.

I feel that focusing completely on consumers would get MS 95% of the push it needs. The wishes of external parties is what gave us the DRM, Youtube's content ID and much more - all anti-consumer.

Developers complained about losing revenue to piracy - voila. Microsoft built WP so that it was impossible to get apps outside the store.

Apple has "arguably" been about consumers and we can see where that led them. IMO, fuck everyone else, design consumer friendly stuff. At least that's how Google search, android, and gmail began.


> I don't think privacy is a mass market appeal. Here's an experiment you could do. Stop a few random persons on the road or on the train and ask their opinion about equivax, Cambridge Analytica, and Chrome's recent privacy violations and I'm sure you'll get blank stares on 90 out of 100 people.

But repeat the same experiment asking them about Facebook listening to their conversations (whether true or not, it's now believed) and about adverts tracking them around the web and those same people will start complaining vociferously and tell you how creepy it is.

Microsoft is investing into IoT now. I could see smartphones morph into different specialized wearable devices, which puts Microsoft ahead of themselves, once again (they are always early to the party without the best party favors).

>they are always early to the party without the best party favors

Innovators' curse maybe? They were pioneers in voice assistant, smart phone and tablets. Alas!

MS has begun to coast with AR - hololens, no new version in a while. Apple is well positioned to take the lead here.

As for IOT, I feel the current MS won't win. Windows 10's constant need to phone number will wear battery down and consume previous bandwidth.

Microsoft is a red herring. They should not be talked about in the same context as Google and Apple. They have no idea how to make an OS or desktop software, so much that Windows users have to work together to undo Microsoft's stupid decisions they make on managing Windows. Making a mobile OS, which will be much less user-manageable, would be a disaster for them. I feel bad for the few intelligent people working there.

> Nadella won't because of MS hate.

Which is well-earned, they saved it for decades. What fueled their growth before, now is working against them.

> Lots of naive developers are drunk on the false open source android story

If you think leopard can change its spots, it's you who is naive. The arrogance with handling Windows 10 should tell you, that they didn't change; they will abuse their position when they think you have no other option. The "naive developers" as you call them know that and will not do anything to put Microsoft into that position.

> Ms spent at billions in payment (bribes) to developers to build WP apps, yet.

Yes, they did. They thought that their existing partners will help them. Fortunately, they were wrong.

> They have tried and failed multiple times to turn Windows into a store only OS.

Yes, developers giving Microsoft more power over themselves. What could possibly go wrong... It's a good thing they failed.

OS Store is not the thing that keeps Windows used.

> Their OS was unjailbreakable far more so than IOS.

That's another "feature" nobody asked for.

> Windows 10 auto updates is another clue that MS is clueless about data costs. I'll bet, more people left Windows for autoupdating than for being insecure.

That's just a symptom of hubris, mentioned above.

>If MS had done their thing only with hardware they made

I recall Ms was banned from building their own hardware. Just like how Car companies are banned from retailing their own cars in the US.

As far as I know (which isn’t perfect knowledge by any means) MS has had a hardware division since 1982, it’s just that it was never their focus. IIRC Bill Gates famously didn’t want to become a major hardware vendor, but wanted to focus on the software. Certainly I’ve never heard of a ban or anything like it, and I was under the impression that dealership laws were essentially unique to cars. If you have some other information to the contrary I’d be happy to read it. Obviously if such a ban existed it was lifted before MS made things like the Zune, or Surface.

are you talking about device manufacturers or component manufacturers? for the latter, look at what happened to imagination when apple dropped them and then tell me with a straight face that wasn't bullying.

It wasn't bullying. Imagination was a one trick pony with, to mix clichés, all their eggs in one basket. They were always going to be screwed when Apple continued far enough down their predictable path to in-house silicon. The people with a clue all left (mostly to Apple) leaving behind shitty managers and the usual clueless offshore types who resorted to the court of public opinion via an embarrassing, needy blog full of vague threats of legal action. That's the closest it got to bullying, really.

Way worse. Microsoft didn’t control the information people see.

Microsoft got smacked down by the DoJ hard.

Here's hoping that Trump in his second term hits the digital monopolies with the anti-trust legislation they have been flaunting for the last 10 years.

Just because they are somewhat closer to me socially doesn't mean I want to sell out my freedoms to them.

Why would he have to wait for a second term? Why couldn't he start on this tomorrow?

If you think the coverage of him is bad now, wait till you see what happens when the digital monopolies are fighting for their lives.

One only has to look at what the Murdoch paper monopolies did to any politician who dared stand against him: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/cancer-eating-the-he...

>If you think the coverage of him is bad now

He could solve that problem by simply ceasing to say and do dumb things. I'm not convinced the media is out to get him, he just shoots himself in the foot about 20 times / day. I wish the news were focused more on policy than politics (though not sure that would help him), but people like drama and news orgs like money.

> he just shoots himself in the foot about 20 times / day

as much as I dislike trump, i do think some of the negative media coverage of him is over the top, and does its part in destroying credibility of real issues. my own gut would be on those '20 times/day' things, probably 5-10 of them are overblown or taken out of context (the 'fist bump' on 9/11 was overblown, imo, when you look at the complete footage and context).

I agree that it's over the top (mostly thinking CNN here) only due to the fact that it seems to be all they ever report on anymore. Some are overblown, it's true, but enough legitimate issues come up daily to fill the news cycle with headlines like "you won't believe what Trump did next!"

> but enough legitimate issues come up daily to fill the news cycle

agreed, but it becomes a bit of "boy who cried wolf!" If everything is 'over the top' and 'worst ever', etc, then nothing is.

there's legitimately enough to be covering about policy and real political issues at stake - the 'fist bump' coverage and 'outrage' from anyone was worse than trivial - it gives cover and legitimacy to the folks who are on the fence about 'fake news' charges.

>agreed, but it becomes a bit of "boy who cried wolf!" If everything is 'over the top' and 'worst ever', etc, then nothing is.

But should we just allow the normalization of such behavior? I don't think so; I think we should continue to call him out on it.

>there's legitimately enough to be covering about policy and real political issues at stake - the 'fist bump' coverage and 'outrage' from anyone was worse than trivial - it gives cover and legitimacy to the folks who are on the fence about 'fake news' charges.


> But should we just allow the normalization of such behavior? I don't think so; I think we should continue to call him out on it.

what behaviour?

let opinion journalism call him out for stuff that is opinionably bad. let fact-based news call him out on 'real' stuff. again, i go to the fist-bump thing (but the 'koi fish food' thing last year fits too) - there's no need for that to be covered by the same folks and with the same level of coverage as state of the union speeches or cabinet appointments.

Trump and Musk would be well served by giving up Twitter.

Twitter is objectively a huge part of what got Trump elected.

Google et al can't focus on his policies because they benefit from them. Or their owners at any rate.

The rich will not save us from themselves. But they will put a nice rainbow flag up with the wages they stole from us.

I was excited by “Don’t be evil” back in the early days. But maybe they should’ve chosen “Don’t be stupid or evil” because their amnesia, arrogance and carelessness remind me of so many hilarious sad stories from the early days in the tech industry as recounted in this book which I own:

In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters

“Don’t forget not to be evil”

I don’t believe the founders have had personality transplant, so why has google become evil?

It's not evil it's shareholder... value... optimisation ! I blame corporate on that one.

Seems like given enough time, any company will lose whatever value it tried to uphold in the past in favor of shareholders.

Once it reaches that point, every business optimization is in detriment of either the final user or society, quite often both.

Don't the founders have a majority of the voting stock? Do they have a legal obligation to "maximize shareholder value" for the other shareholders?

Shareholders= You and your parents and your grandparents retirement.

This need to have 7-13% yearly returns force companies to grind their employees and customers.

I like capitalism, but I can easily see capitalism doing evil things to create short term profit.

"I can easily see" sounds like it's a hypothetical, but destruction of real value for short term monetary gain is plainly visible all around. I've probably ran into 1000s of real world examples.

Partly they're stepping back a bit and partly they've drunk their own koolaid?

Most of the evil on this world is caused by too many levels of abstraction.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

> it sucks it leaked to nutty Brietbart and not a real new organization

Lack of reporting from others is no reason to believe Breitbart was first to know, e.g. https://mobile.twitter.com/jacknicas/status/1040014678263386...

> Doesn't that bother anyone?

I think it actually helps insulate Google from closer scrutiny of its monopoly position and deplorable business model. Why would any self-respecting country suffer an all-powerful ad-financed private Alphabet Agency? Because they think Evil is "on our side".

Google too shut down AdSense just a few weeks ago for a project I work on/for. We only use AdMob to serve ads as alternative monetization. No warning, no reason given, no way to contact anymore. This is definitely not the right way to go about this.

AMP was what did it for me.

When Gmail came out, I said to people "as long as it stays on gmail.com then they can't use email scraping with your search history. No privacy issues." (or minmal ones)

Within a few months of Gmail going public it changed from gmail.com to gmail.google.com or google.com/gmail or some such thing, and I knew instantly they had bamboozled everyone.

That was years ago, the rest has been the expected trend.

Why does the front-facing domain have anything to do with what data they can or cannot collect?

Because cookies are bound to a domain. So once Gmail moved to google.com/mail, the Gmail cookies started carrying over to the search on google.com, meaning that Google could correlate your search terms with your account.


Wasn't that somewhat related to the trademark dispute?

The domain gmail.com became unavailable in Germany due to trademark disputes [...]


If the Germany trademark issue was relevant to the moving from gmail.com to google.com/whatever is the case, why were we all allowed to have @gmail.com email addresses?

In Germany they used @googlemail.com addresses.

I know that. I was merely pointing out that if gmail.com was the issue, then having youremail@gmail.com would also be an issue. But since it never has been, the issue in Germany has nothing (based on this simple logic) to do with Google changing the email access from gmail.com to google.com.

... and then they started giving away Google Analytics so every hit on every website could be recorded (by them), and then built Chrome, so that every hit on every website could be recorded (again by them).

To think we were so naïve.

Same here. AMP and the current move to get rid of URLs were the last straw.

What do you mean by get rid of urls? I just have missed it

My good buddy was within circles of “Team L” back then and nagment always laughted when someone mention “dont do evil” mantra. Google never said they wont do evil, they just stated a fact in general. Similar like Subway says “eat fresh” and you think “oh i guess they have fresh subs” meanwhile just recently there was a case when someone sued Subway for chemicals used in their bread, and reasoned their lawsuit on fact they assumed Subway has fresh sandwitches, but actually Subway lawyers explained the slogan is for others and “in general”, not that they as a company produce or serve “fresh” subs themselves.

I stopped trusting Google the day they announced they would use Gmail email content for displaying ads. Sometime in the late 00’s it was I think.

Your memory is a bit off. Algorithmic reading of emails for targeted ads was a feature of Gmail from day one.

Here's an article from June 2004:


The privacy implications were widely discussed when Gmail launched, but then the media interest just faded out because people were apparently OK with it and Google promised to "do no evil". So here we are, 14 years later.

Do they really use email content for ad targeting or are you spreading misinformation?

They did, for a few years. It was a bit scary, but also really good. It was really easy to test, if you sent an email discussing a weekend trip with some friends you'd immediately get hotel and flight ads for that destination. Actually quite useful...


Nope. See other comment.

> Adsense was the first breach in trust for me, when they banned my account for no reason and ruined any chance of every monetizing my content...since they are basically a monopoly in that area. Getting off their blacklist, is literally impossible.

Same thing happened to me shortly after Adsense started up. They banned my account when I was 17/18 for clicking on my own ads, which I'd never done because I knew you'd get banned for it. I'm now 32, so in two years my Adsense account will have been banned for literally half my life.

If we'd ban targeted advertising, this would take away the perverse incentives, and we could help transform Google and other companies into something better. I'd say let's start with a petition.

I'd prefer to tax rather than ban ads. Ads are like (indeed contribute to) carbon emissions, not murder.

It's kind of irritating that we're always trying to keep up with the latest version. In a way, it's actually putting the power into their hands. Making it easier for them to get away with sleazier stuff because the majority are on the most recent version.

And because everyone's on the latest version, it's harder for individuals to downgrade or stay on old versions for longer without getting obsoleted.

It's actually closing the web. The excuse for aggressive upgrades & auto-updates are mainly for security purposes, with the side benefit of reducing the work of web developers. But on the flip side, it's actually huge centralization move.

> the video that leaked out [...] of the Google town hall also baffled me

Which video?

I think it was after the US election results, senior leadership was discussing with employees what it could mean for them, and what Google's stance would be. Quite reasonable for a company that is open to diversity to reassure their diverse workforce when a president who is explicitly against diversity is elected.

Typical Breitbart trying to create much ado about nothing, I've had similar "town hall" discussions in the UK since Brexit - "what does this mean for our employees? etc"

I don't agree that the content of the leaked video[0] was reasonable. Google essentially controls information, so they have tremendous power. Their staff have openly called to subvert democracy, which I think most reasonable people find incredibly dangerous. And no, I don't like Trump.

[0]: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/09/12/leaked-video-googl...

Also from an investing perspective, it’s important to know if the senior leadership turns into a sniveling mess when facing uh...adversity in the form of the political horse they backed losing an election.

Where did Google leadership call to subvert democracy? At no point in the video do they instruct or encourage employees to do that. They're discussing what Trump means for their employees, not for their customers

I said Google staff had, and I didn't say they did that in this video. But then to be fair, I don't have any hard evidence for this.

EDIT: As it turns out, sources for this are pretty easy to come across online: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-travelban/google-s...

This is the main claim: "Google employees discussed how they could tweak the company's search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, the WSJ said. The ideas were not implemented."

To me, that is not "subverting democracy." It is, however, taking an active political stance.

I respectfully and strongly disagree. A functioning democracy is fundamentally predicated on a well-informed electorate.

If the primary source of information is manipulated in the name of political activism, how can they become well-informed?

Sadly I must qualify this by saying I don't believe the general public in the West are well-informed, but that doesn't mean that ideal should be given up entirely.

From the parent:

> show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies

From you:

> fundamentally predicated on a well-informed electorate

Describe how anything in the parent statement fails to contribute to, or detracts from, a well-informed electorate. Both examples are involvement in the functioning of a democracy, not detracting from it.

Nor is any private party obligated to provide "equal coverage". That the level of "informed" goes up, but does not encapsulate information -you- think should be included, does not negate this.

> the WSJ said

The WSJ is unabashedly an outlet for conservative and GOP talking points. That is clear on its opinion page, and I know that somehow people trust its news pages, but the same editors control the rest of the publication, as does the owner of the WSJ and Fox News, Rupert Murdoch. I wouldn't trust their summary of something relating to a conservative talking point.

Your source doens't back your claim of:

"Their staff have openly called to subvert democracy,"

The key here being "openly" and a specific call to "subvert democracy". None of this happened, and your source does not back up this claim in any way. These are apparently in internal only threads, and they were merely talking about tweaking search results.

Internal, private emails threads are objectively not "openly calling" for something and merely "tweaking search results" is not "subverting democracy" in any sane world.

You are spreading misinformation at best.

> But if you deal directly with Google ad sales (and this is something I never knew existed tbh) they will intentionally screw you if you are under a certain spend.

Any more details on this?

I'm interested in this as well. My current company uses AdWords directly and is almost certainly below that "certain spend". I'm suspicious that we might be getting taken to the cleaners too, but not sure the co-founder would believe me.

Unfortunately the only way to really know is to have a PPC expert audit your account. IMO having a good in-house PPC person is crucial, or at least go through a reputably agency (as an in-house PPC expert can be pricey.) Even though agencies charge a service fee, your results will almost certainly outperform just using Google's in-house service or doing it yourself. There are also classes some people offer on the topic, which can help you tell if you are being had. I'm not saying it's going to happen every campaign, but it is a common practice.

I can't enumerate on it much more without likely making an error, as I am not on the PPC team myself. I know several people in the Michigan Ann Arbor hub at Google that have told me this directly.

> it sucks it leaked to nutty Brietbart and not a real news organization.

That right there is the issue. “Real” news organizations share ideological views and their choice of what to investigate is a result of that ideology. When a newsroom cheers or is despondent over an election result, it’s unrealistic to expect them to provide hard-hitting coverage that potentially undercuts their own biases.

The coverage of Russian “collusion” is a great example. Hillary Clinton’s people met with the ambassador of China as well as Russian officials during the campaign. But there was not even cursory coverage in mainstream media outlets or any investigation into Hillary’s campaign while similar alleged actions by members of the Trump campaign have led to a years long special prosecutor. I am not going to relitigate the collision case here, but alleged Trump collusion or alleged Clinton collusion would both be considered crimes, that Clinton didn’t win is immaterial since the crimes being alleged are collusion before the election. However, there hasn’t even been any cursory investigative reporting of the actions of the Clinton campaign despite secretly meeting with both Chinese and Russian officials. Just those meetings alone would be grounds for concern, but media outlets, in their disdain for Trump, ignored a potentially identical crime committed by Clinton’s campaign, not because it wasn’t newsworthy, but because it didn’t fit the ideological ambitions of many major “reputable” news outlets. I am not claiming Clinton did or didn’t collide; only that there was enough evidence to inspire at least some investigative reporting by the media — but the problem is that such reporting would weaken the “case” against Trump in terms of public opinion.

Keith Ellison a congressman with multiple, credible sexual assault accusations against him gets a pass in the media despite him running for Attorney General of Minnesota and he’s the deputy Chairman of the DNC. Yet, the media goes after the Kavanaugh story despite a far weaker accusation than the police-record supported claims against Ellison. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Again, I am not litigating the Kavanaugh case here, only pointing out that the media has a propensity to cover news with an intensity to suits an obvious agenda as opposed to covering news impartially.

With the Google politics situation, why would the “reputable” media care when it’s a sentiment they already share.

I was a contract journalist for Reuters from 1996-2002 and, in my opinion, journalism has declined prodigiously since then. It has become a click-bait driven industry that preys on tribalism and emotion. My first real exposure to the 24 hour news cycle was during Desert Storm and I remember the coverage of CNN was not only reputable, but explemplary. The NY Times was an extraordinary paper along with the Seattle PI, Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe And Miami Herald. My old hometown paper where I interned before going to Reuters was also great — attacking left and right with equal aplomb, passion and fairness. But something happened along the way. We could blame Trump as is the fashion, but Trump was a product of this, not the cause. There have always been fringe media outlets like Breitbart, however they really didn’t have much of an audience because the majority of people of all political stripes had a reasonable trust in the major media outlets. The issue of media bias isn’t even one of specific stories and how they are written, but something far most sinister — the quiet influence of the assignment editor who decides what stories are even worth considering. The NY Times for example, well written, generally solid stories however, the real bias comes from what they choose not to cover. The Trump stories are certainly worth ink, but so are the stories about Clinton Foundation irregularities, quid pro quo arrangements with foreign governments, the Moroccan phosphate deals, Russian Uranium and campaign money laundering to the time of $84 million.

In full disclosure, I didn’t vote for Trump, didn’t support him at all, but I am a libertarian-leaning conservative frustrated that ridiculousness like modern Breitbart even needs to exists. (I say “modern” Breitbart because under Andrew Breitbart, it was actually a pretty decent new source, albeit from a right perspective — it was the conservative answer to the Huffington Post, though now, it’s pretty close to Infowars territory.

I apologize for the rant, but I agree, it’s a shame that fringe media has done more investigating into google than the “reputable” media.

> My first real exposure to the 24 hour news cycle was during Desert Storm and I remember the coverage of CNN was not only reputable, but explemplary

?!?!?! It's funny to see how different viewpoints can be. The CNN coverage of Iraq 1 (and 2) is often given as a textbook example of how pro-military propaganda can be achieved thanks to "embedding": News networks need images, the easiest way to get the most striking images is to be embedded within military units, the military are more than happy to comply, as long as they keep editorial control of what is published: win-win for both, but a definite loss for impartiality

Even as a middle school student I was amazed how “clean” they made the war seem. It was clear that the military had full control over the flow of information.

It was clear that the military had full control over the flow of information

They learnt the lessons of the Falklands, where the BBC was happily informing the Argentinians that e.g. they were setting their bomb fuses wrong...

No they learned their lesson in Vietnam when they let this image get out, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

all serious presidential campaigns have some contact, especially after they win an election, with major world powers. the big difference is they'd run away and report it to the fbi et al if said world powers offered to help them in the election.

"they'd run away and report it to the fbi et al if said world powers offered to help them in the election"

How do you know that? Has this happened?

> However, there hasn’t even been any cursory investigative reporting of the actions of the Clinton campaign despite secretly meeting with both Chinese and Russian officials. Just those meetings alone would be grounds for concern, but media outlets, in their disdain for Trump, ignored a potentially identical crime committed by Clinton’s campaign, not because it wasn’t newsworthy, but because it didn’t fit the ideological ambitions of many major “reputable” news outlets.

It's not just the news media. The justice department seems to be ignoring it too.

Two things:

I'd love to see specific sources that back up your claims about Hillary Clinton's 'secret meetings'.

And, on a more general note, I'm pretty astounded that you spend so much time railing against the bias of what we are obviously meant to infer is the left wing media without even acknowledging the existence the right wing media machine. And no, it isn't Brietbart and only Brietbart.

>Keith Ellison a congressman with multiple, credible sexual assault accusations against him gets a pass in the media despite

a) There are definitely some inconsistencies in the stories about what he did/did not, and after reading through a few articles on the subject, it doesn't exactly seem like there's very much concrete evidence at all. AND EVEN THEN, the allegations are not as far as I can in any way sexual assault allegations. And furthermore, I found a litany of sites discussing the situation on both side of the traditional spectrum.

also, that atrocity named Go...

How is your comment relevant to the article?

Firefox is a truly fantastic browser now. I've been using it again for about 2 years and haven't regretted it at all. There have been a couple of weird feature hiccups but generally Mozilla seems to get things right.

I wish I could use it but it has serious performance problems on macOS. I tried and it was just terrible. (thought not all Mac users have problems, quite a number do, and Mozilla has an open issue asking for debugging logs from Macs to find the reasons).

If you are on MacOS, why don't you use Safari?

I'm puzzled as to why people seem to dismiss the "built-in" browser. It's the fastest, smoothest, best integrated, and least power-hungry browser on the platform. I regularly use all three major browsers (for testing, I write web applications) and I consistently switch back to Safari for all my non-special browsing.

This past weekend I tried Safari again when I saw it updated to version 12. I was surprised to see that Apple deactivated my uBlock Origin plugin, saying it would slow the browser down. So now Safari is unusable and filled with ads, and there's nothing Apple provides to replace uBlock Origin. This is a total show-stopper for me.

It’s really just a suggestion to turn off some extensions. Haven’t bothered to figure out what triggers Safari to do that, but you can still run uBlock Origin on Safari 12 and it seems to work fine.

> Haven’t bothered to figure out what triggers Safari to do that

Safari has a new extensions model and will be deprecating the legacy one in a year. Hence the push to migrate to newer extensions.

the new extensions model is ridiculously useless... You need to build your extension in Xcode now, and for anything other than content blocking, the APIs are non existent... for instance, you can't even close tabs!

I made an extremely simple extension using the new model around 2months - before I try migrating an older "actually useful" extension. But theres just no way its possible to migrate.

Apple doesn't care about browser extensions now, it seems they want everyone to move to the new model, so they can collect revenue on sales on ad blockers.


This is wrong - you can inject arbitrary scripts and styles:


You didn’t reply to or contradict anything they said. You need Xcode to build extensions and Safari has a super limited API. Executing JS and CSS don’t address either.

He didn’t say limited, he said nonexistent.

More specifically, if you can inject scripts I don’t see why you couldn’t call window.close()

> Apple doesn't care about browser extensions now, it seems they want everyone to move to the new model, so they can collect revenue on sales on ad blockers.

The web is terrible without a serious adblocker and the available alternatives (paid or not) are unable to take away the same amount of junk. People will simply start using another browser.

Apple doesn't provide a replacement extension, but they do vend a replacement API, the content blocking API. There are many extensions that use this.

You can turn it back on. Go to Preferences -> Extensions and check "uBlock Origin". I've been using Safari 12 since it came out and uBlock Origin works with it just fine.

You can get the Adblock Plus app, which using the new API.

This is a tradeoff Apple made valuing privacy and performance over user freedom. The new content blocking API is safer and faster.

I haven't tried uBlock Origin, but I'm running 1Blocker and Ka-Block! and they filter out most of the worst offenders.

You might be thankful it was deactivated - it might have not been legit.


I just use uBlock Origin anyway (basically ignore the message). I don't see a difference in performance with the plugin when I updated to v12 on my mid-2010 MBP (it's slow anyway, so /shrug).

Don’t use uBlock, but content blockers on Safari work really well for me. There is also quite a lot of built in privacy protection already.

same happened with Adguard and this was using non deprecated APIs (uBlock Origin was and is clearly using deprecated APIs). It seems for blocking stuff Apple changed the whole SDK on the browser!

One thing I don't like is having a 30% chance to have to wait 2-4 seconds whenever I swipe to go to the previous page or click the back button.

This. This a thousand times. I get these random slow downs as well with safari. But only every once in a while. What is happening?

Ah so it’s not just me!

I keep trying to use Safari as my main browser. I want to use it so bad.

I keep switching away from it due to lack of favicons and lack of extensions. I don't personally mind paying for a dev license to release an extension, but it definitely takes a toll on the extensions that get released.

Safari shows favicons in tab titles in macOS v10.14 Mojave.

It's a Safari 12 feature, so works on macOS 10.13 too.

And Safari 12 on High Sierra.

And on the topic of this thread, Safari also has the best privacy protections: <https://webkit.org/blog/8311/intelligent-tracking-prevention....

Do you use Internet Explorer on your Windows Box?

For me the biggest reason not to use Safari was that I couldn't paste screen snippets or images from a clipboard (e.g. Web Whatsapp etc). But after your comment I tried and they seem to have implemented it. Maybe even in Safari 12.

Safari doesn't support WebGL2 and probably never will because of Apple's stance on OpenGL. Disqualifies it for me and I've had to tell customers that I can't support it, even if they'd pay for it.

We're moving to WebGPU now, there will be no more WebGL in the future. WebGPU is coming out in late 2019.

It’s on in Safari Technology Preview: https://webkit.org/status/#specification-webgl-2

We have no particular stance against it, though I agree with the other poster that WebGL is more the future.

Ah, that's good to hear. WebGL2 has lot's of useful features, glad to see Safari is going to support them, too.

Because I can't sync history and bookmarks to my Android phone or my Windows gaming PC.

It lacks tree style tabs.

It has the worst UX. It doesn't show favicons on tabs. It has the worst selection of extensions: https://redditenhancementsuite.com/safari/. Everything just seems to be worse than Firefox/Chrome from the developer tools to extension development (you need Xcode).

To use Safari, you pretty much need to decide that performance / battery life are more important than anything else which only describes my needs when I need to milk my battery when it hits 10% with no electric outlet in sight.

Safari 12 can show favicons on tabs now :o)

This is how to enable it: https://lifehacker.com/how-to-enable-safari-favicons-on-mac-...

Sadly not for the favourites bar yet, which is the biggest thing holding me back so far. :( (+ the UI just seems so clunky and old compared to Chrome)

As a counterpoint; I think the Safari UI is the lightest and gets out of my way. I am I the only one who actually likes the lack of favicons? Very minimalist and gets out of the way to let me do my surfing.

I do use Chrome during development though.

It does have some ux benefits too. The "back gesture" works much better than on other browsers. Firefox gives no feedback, and chrome gives very poor feedback.

Safari lets you peek at the previous page, and makes it very obvious that you are about to go back, without any performance hit.

It also comes with reading mode, which chrome doesn't. Even with an ad blocker, many pages are still layed out in ways that can only be summed up as reader hostile.

So for reading and moving between pages, I feel like it beats both ffx and chrome. So I disagree with your "more important than anything else" part, but agree that performance and battery is among its top features, and if you don't care for that, safari does become a hard choice.

We all care about about battery life performance. This comments section is filled with people like me who want to use Safari and give it a serious try every once in a while for that exact reason.

But it needs more than that when my battery already lasts 6+ hours under heavy use and my laptop is plugged in almost all day anyways.

Perhaps you can see how a reading mode that we already had extensions for in other browsers and sexier prev/next gestures damn it with weak praise.

Well, it does show favicons on tabs (with the recent update). I'm not sure what you mean "everything seems to be worse", I haven't found this to be the case. As for extensions, there are indeed fewer Safari extensions than for other browsers. I checked and I regularly use only: 1Password, Ghostery, AdBlock and Harvest.

As I said, it provides the best performance, experience and battery life.

Safari has just added favicon support for pinned tabs.

Also privacy and security, since today's Mojave release.

Strange. I almost exclusively use OSX (El Cap) and haven't had performance issues asides from needing to restart the browser once a month or so. Hopefully they get those problems resolved soon, the browser is super quick when it's working right.

Are you using a "scaled" resolution? If so, there's a bug in redrawing that pegs a core, and kills battery life.

It can be mitigated by setting

  gfx.compositor.glcontext.opaque = true
in about:config, but the fix is invasive, and has taken years to get prioritized and worked on. I've seen reports that it should finally be done in FF64 or 65.

I find that I cannot watch a YouTube video on my MacBook in Firefox for more than 10 seconds without the fans coming on at full throttle. This is one of the few reasons that I start up chrome, as strangely I can watch the same video in chrome without performance issues. I haven't had this issue on Firefox on PC

Google properties are a lost battle.

Google Sheets and Google Docs have been horrible on anything than Chrome for a while as well, and I guess they have no incentive to make that situation change. Firefox is dealing with it better than before I think, but I won’t hold my breath for parity to ever come.

Disable "Automatic graphics switching" in "Energy Saver" in OS X settings. This fixed this problem for me (which started about 4 months ago).

(I'm on Yosemite.)

I'm on Yosemite and I don't see anything like that in the energy saver preference pane.

That setting will only appear if you have a 15" with a dedicated GPU. 13" only have "Energy Saving" integrated graphics and don't need the setting

Try the h264ify extension, it forces h264 video instead of webm, you can block 60fps videos too if you want to halve the size of the download.

If your cpu does not have a webm decoder in hardware, it has to decode them in software which is inefficient.


It's pretty bad. Firefox cuts my battery life in half doing nothing.

Also, on my 2-year old MacBook Pro, the thing heats up pretty bad and the fans go on quite loud. It's terrible. I've actually never run any application on my laptop that performs as bad as Firefox, and that's saying something.

There is a significant (maybe 0.4-0.5 seconds?) lag between the cursor hovering over something and it's hover action (highlight, whatever) taking place.

Running my mouse down the list in about:config feels like I'm drunk.

This is on a brand new maxed out i7 MacBook Pro.

As a follow-up, I did a complete reinstall of Firefox with a new profile, removed as much cruft as I could (pocket, etc.), upped the content process limit... and I feel like Firefox is much more usable. There's still some lag, but it's more on the order of 0.05 - 0.1 seconds.

Now if I could just get it to be reasonable about search engines...

GP claims that FF performance is terrible, which I cannot endorse (I guess GP might be having an actual issue), but I'll make a different claim: performance is not as good as Chrome (or maybe even Safari), despite all the accolades of FF Quantum, and my myriad attempts to switch to FF. The (at least perceived) inferiority of performance in addition to general UI ugliness makes it a no switch for me.

P.S. macOS 10.13.6.

funny, I personally find the new Chrome look to be much uglier

When I first saw the Chrome update, I thought: "Hey, it looks just like Firefox!"

Sorry, if that was your thought, I’m afraid all design is probably lost on you. Which might be a blessing, since you can use whatever and can’t tell the difference anyway.

It can be switched back (for now)...

Go to chrome://flags, search for "UI Layout for the browser's top chrome" and pick "Normal". Restart and enjoy the old design.

Same here, almost exclusive FF user on OSX (Sierra) and never had any issues

I gave up on Firefox on OS X for performance reasons and switched to Safari a while ago and it’s a decent browser. It has support for extensions that I use (ublock origin and 1Password), uses less battery than any other browser, and is fast

I hear about "FF performance issues on Mac" and I just don't get it.

I believe all of the people who report this, but it's not something I experience. Here's my usage pattern:

- 50+ hours in a browser each week

- Regular use of both FF and Chrome with very occasional use of Safari (I'm a developer of web apps)

- FF has been my primary browser for 15 years or so

- Used on a variety of Macs (2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2015 MBPs with 8-16GB RAM)

- Running uBlock Origin in all browsers FWIW

...so, anecdotal, but pretty extensive.

I never had major problems with FF in the pre-Quantum days. Chrome always felt snappier than FF, and Safari felt snappier than both, but the differences were not huge and FF was "fine." And now since Quantum, FF is on par with Chrome for me in general.

The one time FF feels like a pig for me is on Google-owned web apps like Gmail.

For many years, Gmail and Gsuite apps were lightning fast on FF. But in the last few years it has gotten slower and slower on everything but Chrome. Hmmm, wonder why.

Firefox on OS X (Macbook Pro 2017 and 2015):

- uses 100% CPU even when idle

- frame rate drops to 2-3 per second for 5-10 seconds when switching tabs

- causes other programs to not work properly because it is using too much CPU

I have tried uninstalling the browser and re-installing OS X but it didn't solve those issues. I read somewhere it is a bug that pops up when you have display resolution scaling on and I think it applies to me because I have two 4k monitors set at 2x scaling.

    uses 100% CPU even when idle
That sucks.

Anecdotally, I've never seen this, even when I had 1 external 4K and 1 external 2K connected. The whole OS was kind of sluggish at that point, but that was definitely asking a lot out of a puny integrated 3-year old laptop GPU so eh.

Just did a quick informal test with my current setup:

- MacOS High Sierra.

- 2015" MBP with no discrete GPU.

- Single 4K external monitor, 3008x1692 scaled resolution.

- uBlock is off.

With only a single blank tab open FF uses 0% CPU as expected. I opened three tabs: Facebook, Espn.com, and MSNBC.com. There was a brief flurry of CPU activity as the sites loaded, and FF's processes are now idling comfortably at 0-1%.

I repeated the process with Chrome and results were similar. One difference is that Chrome spawns 10x as many processes, but they seem to consume less memory each.

In both FF and Chrome, there's a palpable (500 or 750ms?) delay when switching tabs. In my experience a lot of Mac apps behave that way at scaled 4K resolutions.

I repeated this informal test in Safari and it "feels faster"; less CPU spike on initial site load and switching browser tabs feels close to instant.

Entirely anecdotal but I have noticed huge issues with Firefox when I hook my laptop up to a 4k display. My normal display is 1080p and no issues on the same machine.

Well, the last update to Adwords aka Google Ads is now a clunky piece of shit on Chrome and FF.

I don't know if Google has gone too far with the A/B split testing and are picking winners solely on a most ad revenue metric or if they abandoned UX testing altogether. I suppose it could be a bit of both. May be their decision making AI is secretly optimizing Google in a destructive direction.. who knows.

I love how Safari sips battery on OS X, but its performance is glacial in my experience. With Chrome I can, for example, type “was” and hit return at normal typing speed and expect the browser to have autopopulated “washingtonpost.com” from my history and take me there. With Safari on the same newer high end macbook pro, autopopulate takes up to a few seconds, so hitting return takes me to the page half of the time and searches for “was” the other half of the time. Pages seem to take longer until the first meaningful content loads, too.

I wonder what the issue is. My experience with safari on my old macbook air is speedy with no power problems.

I switched back to Chrome recently because the ublock origin port on Safari has been pretty broken recently. Setting third party domain blocking options in advanced mode doesn't seem to work any more (can't save the settings) and the extension doesn't seem to be maintained any more, judging by the github repo.

The one major thing that keeps me from Safari is keyword searching. It's a major part of my browsing workflow and makes me so much more productive. Last I knew, you could assign hotkeys to bookmarks, but I don't think you could assign keywords and you couldn't use %s as a placeholder.

At first, I was confused, because I've been using this feature in Safari for years. But then I remembered that years ago I installed an extension called "Omnikey" that provides this: http://marioestrada.github.io/safari-omnikey/, https://safari-extensions.apple.com/details/?id=ec.mario.omn.... If this is the only thing holding you back from using Safari, install the extension and switch. It's been working so well for years that I forgot it wasn't built in.

Safari 12 no longer supports uBlock Origin. I discovered this over the past weekend. Without ad blocking, Safari is unusable for me.

EDIT: It seems AdBlock Plus has now come out with a new plugin that conforms to Apple's new API.

It does, if you enable it again (or reinstall it from the Safari Extensions directory). However, I get the feeling it will only last for this version, since they seem to be closing down on JavaScript extensions in general.

It’s been pretty good for me since Quantum. There is still a known issue with scaled monitor resolutions (which I do use), but it looks like fixes are in the pipeline.

Yep. And Google Voice runs horribly on iOS.. 20 second lag time to check messages, no joke. Earlier versions would freeze at the beginning of each character you type.

Makes me wonder if companies aren't just slowing down their competitors..

On iOS they can't use their own engine, everything is just a wrapper around webkit.

WebKit isn't slow though.

Also the parent comment is about Google Voice, which is not a browser and therefore is not constrained by Apple's restrictions on 3rd-party browser engines.

It's possible, but it's much more likely that off-platform teams just don't get much love from their orgs. iTunes on Windows comes to mind, for example.

I would believe this, were it not that the google voice app continues to break in new ways version to version. The latest loads a little faster and isn't freezing as much (still a 10 second load, better than a 40 seconds of nothing). But now when I reply to messages? 19/20 messages I've tried to send through GV show "Message failed to send".

The timestamps on call and message lists don’t update properly either. Switching playback source (earpiece to speaker) often doesn’t work. Screen shuts off even when voicemail is still playing.

All this unfixed for years now.

Really? When I complained about Firefox performance on macOS, I was downvoted by a lot of people. It almost made me consider if the problem was PEBKAC (problem exists between keyboard and chair). I am glad I'm not the only one. I wanted to love Firefox, but I can't because of this.

edit: reading all the comments in this thread, geez, I finally feel like I'm not a stupid user. :) The issues are real!

Yup. Firefox is slow as hell on my mac. I've tried everything and nothing works.

The current Firefox beta changeling has a couple items that suggest better performance on macOS:

"Faster tab switching in the majority of cases for our macOS users"

"Improved the reactivity of Firefox on macOS"


Sorry to sound naive, but is there a good reason (or a few) not to use Safari?

One reason is that the variety and number of extensions available is far lesser on Safari compared to Firefox. If someone is dependent on several extensions, then it may be a no-go.

It's my daily browser of choice, FWIW, but is no good for development. The React dev tool plugin, for instance, is only available on Chrome & Firefox.

I'm trying to switch to Firefox but it certainly doesn't feel as snappy as Chrome when doing dev work. I do like some of the tools though. Still undecided.

I use Safari for browsing and Chrome for development. Recent changes from Hangouts to Meet has also forced me to use Chrome for video chats.

I've never been a huge extension user (ad blockers and some development tools), so moving to Safari was easy. The big thing I missed was favicons, and those have been in the technology preview for awhile now.

I may explore FF for development, but I'm not sure there is a need since I've already relegated Chrome to a specific task.

This is it. Safari really doesn't compare to chrome/firefox in terms of good developer tools. They are there, but no where near as useful/powerful.

I have noticed a few quirks in Safari that I have to work around. Like not rendering things exactly the same way as chrome/firefox. Bit of a pain, but there is never anything that's really "broken".

These issues seem like they’re (finally) fixed in the betas of Firefox 63.

What performance issues have you experienced? Chrome and Firefox run the same on my machine. The only time I switch to Chrome is when some Javascript developer has for some reason disabled click functionality in browsers besides Chrome. Most recently Bank of America has prevented click functionality on their cash back merchants.

When that happens I just shift-right-click on them (in Firefox). There are add-ons if you don't want to have to do this.

I wanted to ditch Chrome, so I tried Firefox on macOS and it took 3-5 seconds to load most sites while they load in 0.5-1.0 seconds in Chrome. I tried uninstalling (including deleting all profile data) and re-installing to see if that helped. This is as far as I got in trying to install uBlock Origin: https://gyazo.com/5850d1b0955c42b857de4ab302c8149b Tried viewing source, but that page just came out blank too. I really want to like Firefox, but the release version feels like an alpha test to me...

Yeah, this is specific to macOS. I also use Firefox on my Linux machine, where it's supper snappy. Kind of strange, considering a lot of Mozilla employees seem to be on MacBooks.

I just switched on my Ubuntu, following the new release of Chrome which OP rightly criticizes. It works very well.

I have perfomance issues on heavy JS websites. Facebook is almost unusable. But I have a bunch of extensions. If I try using a new profile (no extensions, default preferences, etc) it's nice and smooth.

Yes I have the same issue. Completely absurd resource usage on some pages, causes my fans to spin constantly.

I wish Firefox was as sleek, fast and no-nonsense as Safari on the Mac, which is my everyday browser. I vastly prefer the idea of an open browser that is not tightly coupled to a particular industry giant. And I wish Firefox actually had a viable Safari competitor on iOS, so that I can sync my state around.

Unfortunately, while Firefox has made significant leaps the last couple of years, it's still not a viable alternative to Safari for me. It doesn't feel particularly native (neither the "chrome" nor form controls etc.), and the UX is still clunky compared to native Mac-first apps.

One particular way in which Safari absolutely beats Firefox is the address bar. Most of the autocompletions that Safari provide are exactly what I want. As an example, if I type "mapq" into Safari, it suggests mapquest.com (a site I've never visited before, so this is not based on anything from my history). For Firefox, it suggests a Googles search for "mapquest", which is just stupid. Aside from suggesting web sites, Safari is superb at showing good results (Wikipedia is often a top hit), and it is awesome at providing autocompletions from my bookmarks and history.

Firefox also seems a bit lost when it comes to innovating, and keeps coming up with weak concepts that don't get any tractions; Personas comes to mind. Container tabs are a similarly interesting idea with a weird implementation that requires you to micromanage your tabs, which I certainly don't want to, and provides a "techie" solution to something that should just be invisible and default (i.e. all web sites should be "contained").

> Container tabs are a similarly interesting idea with a weird implementation that requires you to micromanage your tabs, which I certainly don't want to

You might want to take a look at the Firefox Multi-Account Containers Add-on, it lets you set domains to always open in a given container, which cuts down on the micromanagement a lot once you get it "trained". [edit: This is not well-advertised, it's accessed through the context menu (right-click) on a page when you have it open in that container]


> i.e. all web sites should be "contained"

It's possible to enable this for most intents and purposes with "1st party isolation", which came from the Tor browser. Some info here:


I still think that "container tabs" shouldn't need to exist. They fail the "grandma test", for one.

They're working on native first party isolation, but it breaks authentication via Facebook/Google/other OAuth vendors.

It's a tough problem, and I agree the grandma test is a good standard, sometimes it can't be easily done.

Sure. Might be nice to have an adblocker-style filter that says what domains should be considered a single origin, plug that into containers.

Container tabs has that feature built in, you can say that google.com and youtube.com always automatically should open in the same container.

It's still too difficult and cumbersome to use. I might want to have one tab with gmail signed in but another to make anonymous searches on Google, both are on google domains so i have to manually fiddle with the containers again. Then you click a link in an email or search result and you don't really know if this tab should be in the mail-container, in the default container or in the domain-matched container.

I know that feature is there, I was thinking that there could be a maintained list of domain groups you could subscribe to like filterlists. That way you wouldn't have to wait for a Facebook Container addon and a Google Container addon &c.

My biggest issue with containers is how to properly containerize Google itself. There are so many Google properties that are major parts of the web (many under the Google.com subdomain) that its the only major site I have left to no container by default.

One thing that might help is the DeCentralEyes add on. Basically a local cdn of commonly centralized downloads.


It is funny how people have wildly different experiences. I mainly use firefox on MacOS, use Safari and chrome daily, but a tenth as much. I find firefox to be the best in every way, except maybe battery where safari wins. But I don't even notice that.

Well, people's experience of performance may to some extent be subjective or dependent on hardware. But the two problems I mentioned (very poor search box suggestions, and lack of native form controls) are objectively true. Maybe you just don't care about them. For me, going back to Firefox from Safari (or Chrome for that matter) is a step down in UX.

The facts might be objectively true, but not that they're a problem. I do not want domain names suggested by the browser. If I'm intending to go directly to a domain, I'll type it in.

I think you misunderstood my example. It doesn't autocomplete domain names, it shows search results. For example, type "Hacker" and the top match might be Hacker News. Type Newton and the top hit might be the Wikipedia page for Isaac Newton. And so on. Safari searches in a bunch of sources, not just Google.

Firefox, on the other hand, only shows you searches. It might offer "Isaac Newton" as a search suggestion, but that just triggers a search. It has no knowledge of other sources of information (beyond bookmarks and history).

I have terrible results with mobile safari suggesting items from my bookmarks. I constantly try to go to reddit and get auto completion of a different website that starts with ‘re’, repeatedly. I’ve tried to combat this to no avail.

> Container tabs are a similarly interesting idea with a weird implementation that requires you to micromanage your tabs, which I certainly don't want to, and provides a "techie" solution to something that should just be invisible and default (i.e. all web sites should be "contained").

All websites contained would be an interesting default. With ways to “re-open current tab in container [X]” and “merge current tab with container [Y],” it would involve less micromanaging. That’s still not invisible, the container process and UX warrants plenty of thought.

I think container tabs conflates several things that won't be understandable to non-techies. One is privacy — preventing sites from abusing cross-site concerns such as cookies for tracking.

The other is what could be described as "focus" or "modality". A lot of people use windows as a poor man's workspace. For example, if I'm researching where to travel, I'll have a window open with tons of tabs — Google Flights, Kayak, Tripadvisor, Booking.com, all jammed into one "workspace". If I'm comparison shopping for one specific thing, there'd be Amazon, Jet, Etsy, eBay, etc. This is how people tend to work: Windows separate modes, tabs separate units of focus within that mode. And yet there's no browser that supports such a way of working. We have to accept that people now "live" within the Internet, and need to support different modes. Rather than think of the browser as a shell, why not think of the browser as a world in which you can open up different types of interacting with that world? For example, a Google Doc tab is not something that works very well as a tab. It's a document, representing its own modality. Slack is an app, also its own modality. A "workspace" is something else again. And so on. These are all "applications" in a classical sense, yet work within the context of a user.

I'm not suggesting a ChromeOS, just that what we think of as "the web" could be rethought in terms of different variations — ways to work — with the same thing.

Also, in terms of privacy, why are we still using cookies? Why are we "logging in" and "logging out" of web sites and having password managers that automatically fill out form fields? Why can't the web site negotiate its session with the browser ("I want an identity for gmail.com, please give me one"), which can already know who I am?

You probably have search suggestions in firefox turned off (they may be off by default?).

Works for me when I flip it on https://i.stack.imgur.com/0ZfvX.png . I keep it off because I don't like having my every keystroke in the address bar sent to Google.

No, I don't. You and other commenters are clearly unfamiliar with what Safari can do. I collected a few examples:


Firefox only does search suggestions. In other words, anything you select from the suggestions just go to search results. Safari does that, too, but it also provides actual results. Very often the top hit is the right thing.

I keep finding myself idly wondering... how hard would it _really_ be to write my own modern browser?

I'm not sure I completely understand what you dislike about container tabs.

For me, I find them very useful. It's convenient, for example, to be able to have two side-by-side Gmail tabs open. e.g. one for work email, and one for personal email.

As I commented elsewhere, they don't pass the "grandma test". They're a techie's solution to a problem that shouldn't really exist in the first place, if we'd got "logins" and privacy and so on right.

How many non-expert users actually want to be logged into multiple accounts on the same website at a time? Work + home email is the only use case that comes to mind, and Gmail at least has support for that built in.

I guess I don't see why everything has to pass the grandma test.

But I do see your point that they shouldn't be necessary.

In Firefox preferences, you can change the address bar's suggestions to list history/bookmark matches before search suggestions Or to remove search suggestions altogether.

Yes, but that still does not get you what Safari does.

Also a fan. I'm also switching permanently to Firefox after this incident rather than use multiple browsers depending on the purpose.

Same, I always loved FF but had switched to Chrome maybe 2-3 years ago.

After this incident, I switched to FF Quantum permanently. It has come a long way and honestly I feel more at home in FF after a day than I did in Chrome after everything they've tacked on the browser.

Having read these threads, and personally knowing people in the Chrome team that read these threads, I am almost certain that Google will backtrack this. I know more than a dozen developers that switched from Chrome to FF Quantum this week.

I also switched to Firefox. I wanted to give Opera a try but they also use Chromium, where this feature now exists.

Firefox it is, and they have done a great job with the new version.

Surprised no one has brought I up, but Vivaldi is superior in a dozen ways to Opera (and founded by the original Oper founder).

Wow, just downloaded and I'm very impressed. Vivaldi is a real pleasure to use. Thanks for the recommendation.

FYI it also uses Blink.

I'm a huge fan too but it seems like Mozilla keeps dropping the ball on specific odd, "easy" things. The built-in screenshot tool makes it really easy to accidentally upload private information to a public inage sharing site and the Issue tracking a simple button relabeling has been open for months. They refuse to back down on Pocket integration that still leaves an awful taste in my mouth. The Library/Downloads windows have weird UX behaviors, should probably just be regular tabs, etc.

I never noticed the screenshot tool but, wow, that is some ugly piece of ui. The save button is called "Download" and the upload button is called "Save", holy crap. It sure comes off as someone at Mozilla going "I know, lets shove this new cloud enabled share-your-screenshots-with-everyone thing marketing came up with down every bodies throat via the screenshot tool!"

> It sure comes off as someone at Mozilla going "I know, lets shove this new cloud enabled share-your-screenshots-with-everyone thing marketing came up with down every bodies throat via the screenshot tool!"

This describes their approach to basically every new thing they come up with, and as a long time exclusive Firefox user it's the one thing I really don't like about it. I find it to be a great daily-driver browser but every now and then they'll try to cram some new garbage down your throat.

At least they don't surreptitiously start siphoning your data with without asking first, though.

Edit: As for the screenshot thing being poor, I agree that labeling the upload button 'Save' was quite a faux pas but at least the icons are pretty clear. The 'download' icon is the same as the download manager icon, and the upwards arrow pointing to a cloud is a reasonable representation of 'upload'. I might even use this thing someday.

Pocket is now owned by Mozilla.

I for one am glad that it exists, I love Pocket, the only annoyance I have is that the Firefox integration is not as complete as the Chrome add-on, probably because Firefox users keep bitching and moaning about it.

And maybe if that functionality were in an optional extension it would be easier to add features to it for the users that want it. It's not as if it being an add-on has, in any way, hampered your ability to use it in Chrome.

It's great that you like Pocket. I think it's a bit rude to act like it's unreasonable to have qualms about how it was added (certainly pre-Mozilla owning them) or to be confused about it's inclusion while things like RSS reading/folders, (a not-uncommon browser feature) are removed.

This entire conversation wouldn't need to happen. There wouldn't be unhappy users. There wouldn't be "another side" calling criticism "bitching". They'd get active, enthusiastic user feedback, etc, etc.

While I agree that maybe an official extension would have been better, most of the criticism I'm reading on HN is not warranted or in context, like the comment I'm replying to.

Whenever suggestions pop up for migrating from freaking Chrome, which if we are honest is the new IExplorer 6, to Firefox, somebody has to mention freaking Pocket. And it's tiresome and I don't think it is legitimate.

The presence of Pocket's integration in Firefox can't possibly be the reason for why somebody doesn't want to migrate from Chrome.

I’m a heavy RSS consumer, but I’m absolutely in a minority. RSS features according to Mozilla’s own telemetry are used by an extreme minority of users (I can’t find the exact figures but certainly less than 0.5% of people), and are a fairly large and unmaintained part of a codebase that’s undergoing extensive modification. I’d far rather Mozilla expose some APIs and let people make RSS-based extensions than have it built in and getting in the way of performance work.

It always was. When I started using Firefox it was an alternative to IE6. It was the browser you used if you were a web developer because it had things like Firebug (which Google copied and integrated into Chrome). Chrome didn't convert many Firefox users, it just did a much better job of converting IE users than Firefox ever did, but that's no surprise given that they could directly market it to users through google.com.

Chrome initially was faster than Firefox because it lacked features. This is a common pattern if you've been in this business long enough. Firefox itself was originally the fast-but-cut-down version of Mozilla. Like Firefox, Chrome quickly gained features and bloat and became just as slow as Firefox and everything before it.

Except, by default their primary product was the interface by which may of their users got targeted. They've sat on their hands on privacy for years, offering features for the informed minority, not protecting the majority of their users. It's been Safari and Brave that have started to show proper leadership in protecting users.

Recent attempts I've been making to help teach web developers about the dangers of referers, before they add more tracking pixels or leak reset password links get deleted by Mozilla technical writers because

" We don't think it's appropriate to have a red warning banner at the tops of the pages. That kind of design element is one we try to avoid on MDN unless it's highlighting the very first thing you need to know about the item, which we don't think it is in this case, although we do appreciate that it is important."

Great idea, let's leave the wet floor warning as a note at the end of the corridor.

See here https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/im...

I'm a Mozillian who worked on MDN for 5 years, and now work on Firefox Privacy & Security. Most relevantly, I wrote the patch that implements strict-origin-when-cross-origin Referrer policy in Private Browsing Mode.

I certainly trust the MDN team to understand how to arrange their content to match their audience.

I also believe web developers should be more informed about the privacy & security issues of their work. The content you tried to add was verbose without any technical detail or links, and the MDN revision history isn't a great space for content discussion.

Have you tried filing a content bug? It's much easier to converse on bugzilla than thru edit battles.


Yeah I don't like to change habits, I have been using chrome for as long as it has been around, but when I read that last week I made the jump to firefox. Honestly, outside of not having the option to mute sites (as opposed to muting tabs), I can barely tell the difference. Also it makes it harder than chrome to manage site specific permissions. You have to go into the settings and add some exceptions instead of just changing a setting in top left corner while on the site. But it's otherwise a smooth transition.

well there's always vivaldi or chromium if you want to slowly wein yourself off google

I recently moved back to Firefox from Vivaldi. It's been a good move.

I feel like Firefox is back in the same boat it was in the 90s, but this time fighting Google Chrome instead of IE. But it's a bit different since you have to explicitly download Chrome. It's a bit different since you see an ad to download it right when you hit Google.

Not on Android, and not when you install some other piece of software that surreptitiously bundles Chrome and sets it to default: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1053973

I started using Firefox because I literally coudn't use Chrome anymore on my PC. Every time I opened Chrome it would hard lock and I needed to ctrl-alt-del, end-task. Even re-installing and clearing out cache and folders didn't help. I haven't been able to open Chrome for months. Using Firefox for 1 week was a bit of usability shock. But it's so awesome once you get used to it. Everything is indeed so much more thoughtful. Every feature.

I'd like to add that the Firefox DevTools are excellent now. For a long time there was this weird stuff with built-in devtools but-you-still-kinda-needed-FireBug and it was a mess (a sufficiently big mess to keep me on a random Blink-based browser), but these days it's just great.

Firefox is a truly great browser, they really made amazing improvements on all fronts in the last years. And I say this as someone who never used Firefox as their daily driver until half a year ago or so.

I try to change this week but I'm unable to make zoom to work well (Chrome is perfect to me. Safari not work neither).

Exist a way to make it work? (ie: Maker a goblal zoom and a per-domain/page)

Stylish addon can do this. Install it then use userstyles website to find the custom script you need.

Stylish apparently had spyware problems after being bought by another company.[1] Stylus[2] is the fork.

[1] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/chrome-and-fi...

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/styl-us/

i use the "Dark Background and Light Text" extension, to use Solarized on every site. You can toggle with F2. Easier to use IMO.

So I must write a css for the zoom to work?

I use Firefox every now and then just for reading articles so my main browser doesn't get bloated with tabs, but it runs far from fantastic on my computer for some reason.

whenever a page loads all the elements move around for a second or two before they settle in their right place. that would crack me up if I had to put up with that all day

Biggest drawback to me after trying Firefox are the lack of simple profiles, as in Chrome, which let me separate work from personal from school when browsing, and the fact that all web development is done for Chrome. So many sites don't work correctly in Firefox that I eventually had to give up on it and move back.

Container tabs can do that from a isolation perspective, though bookmarks will be shared. I have "banking", "google services", "facebook", and the default for other stuff.

>So many sites don't work correctly in Firefox

I've not experienced that.

I switched to Brave - not looking back :)

Thank you for this suggestion. I truly appreciate it. I just dumped Chrome on mobile and started using Firefox. While it is a fast browser it is nothing compared to Brave. I'm completely blown away by this browser. Now I'm going to install Brave on my desktop as well.

FYI I'm also using Brave on my mobile device. It's fantastic there as well.

Does Brave support quality dev tools?

Literally the same as Chrome re: dev tools.

Example: https://i.imgur.com/ZfHnNmX.png

Development tools held me back and why I don't use Mozilla. Using Chrome dev tools on a daily basis keeps me stuck. Also having different profiles for work and personal is super useful (different bookmarks, logins, history that syncs) it's really slick. Does Brave offer this along with 1Password integration?

I really want to use Brave and I've tried it over the course of more than a year, here and there, and every time it crashes when I pin tabs, I haven't checked their bug reports, granted, but how is this not solved by now?

Brave shows promise, but the windows installer won't allow you to run it outside of appdata, a deal breaker.

My browser of choice is Vivaldi, the most features and flexibility. Love it.

It's the best browser objectively, because it has tree style tabs, it's also a bad browser because it doesn't have a native support for tabs on the side.

I'd use firefox despite its schizophrenic features, if it were at least as responsive as chrome, on my mostly-idle home desktop.

Maybe one day, mozilla. Maybe one day.

>Firefox is a truly fantastic browser now

I've been seeing people repeat that for the past 5 years. It turns out to be false though.

Could you please provide reasoning and evidence for this assertion? Benchmarks, for example?

Could you elaborate in this?

My opinion is that the UX is no where near as polished. The history and bookmark features still look like they're from 10 years ago, and subtler things that are just given thought to because there seem to be dedicated UI/UX designer on the chrome team.

> The history and bookmark features still look like they're from 10 years ago

It's actually a selling point for me, I just can't stomach all the material design craps that Chrome forces on me where a page lost like 70% of usable space to useless whitespace.

I agree with both of you, really, both interfaces are shit. Chrome has that hideous whitespace that's wasteful even for touch interfaces, let alone for mouse+keyboard, and Firefox has a cumbersome and too basic interface. I can't even do an advanced search on my bookmarks.

While I switched back to Firefox a while ago due to loss of trust in Google, it should not be forgotten that they support DRM on the web.

Google’s, no less! (Widevine.)

At least for me, on Linux, it’s always been opt-in, and plenty of the versions of Firefox packaged by distro maintainers get rid of it all together.

They do, (I imagine if Netflix wouldn't work, they would lose users), but at least it's opt-in.

I really want to like Firefox (or any of the alternative browsers mentioned here for that matter), but I frequently use my Surface in tablet mode and the only browsers with acceptable touch screen support on Windows are Edge and Chrome. Last I checked, this still didn't seem to be a priority for Firefox.

What exactly do you mean? (Honest question) Firefox works great on my tablet.

They've actually fixed a number of minor issues over the past year or so, but Firefox still doesn't support pinch zoom on Windows[1]. Being able to reorder tabs using the touchscreen would also be nice, but not as critical.

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=688990

Reordering tabs via touch should work, it was fixed in Firefox 59 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1362065). And yes, pinch zoom is not supported (we do text/reflowing zoom, but not mobile-style pinch zoom). It's something that's being worked on but there's a lot of dependencies in order to get it done.

Thanks -- I didn't realize that reordering tabs had been fixed. It only works on the active tab[1] and I guess I've only ever tried moving inactive tabs before. It's not perfect, but so far seems better than in Edge (which allows reordering of inactive tabs but is often rather janky) and Chrome (which has no ability to scroll the tab bar, so tabs quickly get uselessly tiny).

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1362065#c57

Ah, good point. You should still be able to reorder background tabs using the double-tap-drag gesture (touchdown, touchup, touchdown, touchmove). I haven't tried it recently though.

Google today is like the Microsoft of 10-15 years ago. Grossly dominant, arrogant, user-hostile, and thinking they're above the law. Microsoft got knocked off their perch and are a much better company today than they were 15 years ago. Google's turn to fall is rapidly approaching.

> Microsoft got knocked off their perch and are a much better company today than they were 15 years ago.

Microsoft didn't get knocked off their perch. They won the antitrust fight. Do you remember microsoft being broken apart? I don't.

And they aren't a much better company today. They are arguably an even bigger privacy threat since they are leveraging their ubiquitous OS to gather data and to sell ads.

> Google's turn to fall is rapidly approaching.

Microsoft never fell. They are ahead of google in the race to be the next trillion dollar company. I wouldn't hold my breath thinking that google is going to fall. Especially if you think microsoft "fell".

Google is much less adept at avoiding the ire of antitrust agencies, particularly under the current administration. Google is considerably more evil in the popular imagination at this point.

Were you around back then? It’s realy hard to describe how much MS was hated. There’s nowhere near that animosity towards Google today.

I was, and it seemed absurd at the time. Bundling IE with windows is no different than the current status quo, where Apple defaults to Safari, or Android defaults to a Chrome version.

Google's incredible monopoly in search looks like a large target.

There are other search engines and one can easily just type bing.com into their browser and set it as the default. Even on Chrome.

I'm not sure why you remember MS the way you do. There was a much much larger barrier for consumers to move to a different OS. If you owned a PC you pretty much had to run Windows. And MS made it extremely difficult to use a non-IE browser in the OS.

That doesn't mean I think they're innocent in all things but I don't see how their search market share is a monopoly target.

I have never used IE as my primary browser... I'm sort of amazed at anyone that does use the OS-native browser as their default, because it has almost always been an inferior choice.

For the vast majority of the target audience (i.e., not tech savvy mostly) Internet is the OS-native browser. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't know what a "browser" is in the first place.

As an analogy, during my childhood days when photocopiers came out in India they were mostly Xerox machines. So Xerox became a verb and has stayed a verb to this day. So much so that you will find "Xerox shops"[1] in all Indian cities and people won't understand what a photocopier shop is :-)

[1]: https://goo.gl/maps/M2TSWXLfqc22

One can easily install firefox on windows...

That didn't work for Microsoft back then either

I think we just had a different set of ideals back then. I feel like maybe we got tired of fighting the same battles. Or maybe Microsoft was being judged more harshly on moral grounds because their software was also widely criticized for being crashy.

I mean, at the tail end of that period even South Park was lampooning the reliability of Windows. A lot of Google’s products work very well and dependably (well, provided they don’t murder the product), which maybe isolates them from that synergistic hate.

The difference is that MS was only hated by nerds, whereas Google is hated by everyone on earth.

I don’t know anyone who actively hates Google. Most people don’t even think about it, even though they’re constantly using it in one form or another.

People hated Microsoft. Remember blue screens of death? Clippy? Developing for IE?

A lot people who are heavily right leaning in terms of policies does not like Google.

I even know a local Swedish podcaster that actively say DuckDuckGo instead of Google when relating to search. I completely understand this because I totally agree with the concept that Google has become politicized like a lot of companies unfortunately have become.

I hear plenty of non-tech people bringing up google as Big Brother. Much worse than UX annoyances.

I actively hate google, but I don't know anyone else who does.

> and are a much better company today than they were 15 years ago

I disagree. Have you ever tried to deal with them? I've never experienced a company so hostile towards a customer. They are as money hungry as they were a decade ago, if not more.

Implying Microsoft wouldn’t turn back into the scumbag it used to be, had they regained their market dominance.

There's no implication there.

A minority view: I do care about privacy but this behaviour is what I expect from Chrome.

We have a number of profiles on our shared family PC and people expect logging into chrome or gmail will also log into the other.

For me it's the price of entry for using the google ecosystem. I was already using gmail/gdocs/chrome sync daily, so it just makes life easier.

If I really need privacy I go to incognito or another browser.

Yeah, I actually understand the experience they're trying to create here, and it jives with the general goal of trying to create a consistent identity-based experience for all Google products.

However, this isn't for me (I used to be annoyed enough by my Android phone wanting to sync everything to Google's servers, and switched to an iPhone as a result), and what I hate is that Google never notified users of the change - I probably would have taken a long while to notice this if I hadn't heard about it on HN.

I do think your use case is common in family PCs and this is a nice solution for that. The issue is only on non-shared browsers.

The rant, which I agree, is against the trend. Google Chrome recent versions contain poor quality changes which seem to be incorporated only because they support Google end goals.

Most of the times people tolerate bad things if they get good quality products. I support Google Chrome data collection because I get the best browser. If I get bad UX changes (WWW removal), behavior change without UX information (this case) then my patience for the bad things quickly disappears.

For Windows 10 is also going this path. The trend for Windows 10 is bad quality and also dislike the privacy options so I'm moving to Ubuntu.

shouldn't you use different OS users?

That would slow things down, also we share the same files/dropbox.

Files can be shared in a directory everyone has access to. On Unix-like system it doesn’t pose any problems (create a special group and assign permissions to it). I would suspect that on Windows you can do something similar (setting up a “D:” “drive”?).

Slowing things down... Logging in and out today is negligible in times of time spent. I’m not sure what other factors can come into play here for you in terms of a slow-down.

Having different OS users for different users seems to be a straightforward thing to do.

It would also be the only reasonable way to deal with multiple users on the same machine.

This + the screwup of hiding ".m." and ".www." substrings in URLs + the public threat of getting rid of URLs entirely = patience wearing very thin. Also, enabling webUSB and webMIDI by default earlier, both of which apparently unneccesarily exposed vulnerabilities makes me wonder who's in charge, marketing or security engineering?

Well google is an ad company so you don’t need to wonder who’s in charge of their core products

And this somewhat related bug, when you're in view-source:


Whoever was in charge of the updates to the URL bar seems to be lacking something. But at least the URL doesn't show "https://" anymore, I guess?

Marketing is in charge, of course. This has been abundantly clear for years if not from the outset.

Time and again [1] we've seen that a company's need to make money from user profiling and user data trumps broader privacy protections and wellness of its user base. Whenever these two seem to be in conflict and the company seems to be avoiding privacy intrusions out of benevolence, the truth is that the convergence is yet to happen. This is just a matter of when, and not if.

The broader public either doesn't understand this well or the companies take these decisions to cause fatigue and resignation among the public. The end result is that effectively nobody will care about these unless people who care (like the ones here, as one among many groups on the web) take some time to dissuade others from using these applications/platforms (be it Chrome or WhatsApp or Facebook or anything else).

An ungoogled Chromium is not the solution for this because maintaining a fork that stays true to other advancements takes a lot of effort and time, and in this case cannot be relied on either (unless, as someone pointed on another post here about ungoogled Chromium, you take the trouble of building it yourself every time spending hours).

For now, evangelize Mozilla Firefox and push anyone you know who uses Chrome to move out. Even if Google makes changes to this tracking feature because of backlash, it will only be a temporary holdout.

[1]: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/what-facebook-and-what...

So I wanted to drop Chrome a while ago, and looked at Chromium. Apparently using the "no sync" version you can no longer even log into Gmail (or any other Google service) on the web. That was definitely the last straw for me losing trust in Google, but there's just no good alternative.

I'm not sure where to go from here because it seems pointless to even use Chromium if I can't remove Google from it and still be able to login to Gmail.

> there’s just no good alternative

Are you referring to the chromium space options, or the browser market as a whole? I’ve never left Firefox and still find it to be a pleasant browser, one with which I’ve never felt really left out barring a few annoying bugs from time to time that are typically short lived.

I love Firefox in theory, it's just that in practice I've never been able to stick with it. One thing or another always leaves me running back to Chrome. It's possible that it's just my own bias and familiarity, but I'm not principled enough to endure an inferior experience in any way. Plus working in chrome dev tools all day long, you really miss it when you want to pop something open and look under the hood real quick, and I don't think Firefox is quite up to par there.

I use Firefox exclusively to browse, I use Chromium for local development.

It is true the Firefox's dev tools are a lot better now than they used to be - I use them regularly when I test sites cross browser. But they lack critical features like source editing and stack rewinding, and the tiny visual/layout improvements they've made are not enough to get over that. In Chromium, if I pause a script, I can edit a line code earlier in the function, resume, and Chromium will rewind the stack to that point and replay it forward with my changes.

It is insanely useful, hands down the single tool that I use most often. Stuff like that blows Firefox's dev tools out of the water, because it turns out that I debug Javascript more often than I debug Grid layouts.

A while back I looked into whether or not anyone at Mozilla was working on something comparable, and there was somebody. But then everything went silent and I don't know the status anymore. I've been wondering for multiple years now why this kind of stuff isn't higher priority than new Grid tools or color selectors or whatever.

Firefox's dev tools are way behind Chrome's in basic functionality, even if the user experience is otherwise excellent. You can't even set breakpoints on DOM elements. I would disagree with anyone who claims that they're even remotely comparable tools at this point.

> Plus working in chrome dev tools all day long, you really miss it when you want to pop something open and look under the hood real quick, and I don't think Firefox is quite up to par there

Based on what? What did you try to do and couldn't? Or is your complaint - like the rest of your comment says - that you weren't immediately familiar with the UI, you didn't bother learning, and then decided it was the browser's fault?

How long did it take originally for you to learn the Chrome tools and how long have you given Firefox?

Protip: when you want to sell someone on something, a response of "you're doing it wrong, you're the problem" generally doesn't work.

It's a pretty widely held thing that FF's dev tools don't feel as smooth or well thought out as Chrome's, which is frustrating because FF (really, FireBug, unless you count the weird IE stuff) pretty much _made_ the concept of browser tools great.

I'd love to use FF again too, but for me the blocker is the UI and battery drain. 's why I just use Safari.

> Protip: when you want to sell someone on something, a response of "you're doing it wrong, you're the problem" generally doesn't work.

I agree, but how is this relevant to my comment? I didn't say the GP did anything wrong - I asked them what they did. Not nearly the same thing.

> It's a pretty widely held thing that FF's dev tools don't feel as smooth or well thought out as Chrome's

There are a large number of groups with widely held beliefs where said beliefs don't stand up to scrutiny. "It doesn't feel like Chrome" is not a belief that doubles as valid criticism because it's not actionable. Its sole purpose is to complain about things while making sure nobody can ever act on them because it's so vague.

> for me the blocker is the UI and battery drain

While "the UI" fits in to the category above, battery drain is an actual, specific, measurable and actionable complaint. So please, more of the latter, less of the former.

Stack rewinding, code editing/saving, breakpoints on DOM subtree and attribute modifications, the ability to search for requests via response text (very useful when reverse-engineering APIs), breakpoints on XHR requests, event listener breakpoints.

These are not things that Firefox just does differently, they're features that Firefox just doesn't have.

Firefox's dev tools aren't bad in and of themselves. The UX is fine, and getting better. I don't know if other people have opinions about memory tools or profiling -- I don't all that much.

I guess Firefox's dev tools look prettier, and they do have some features that Chrome doesn't. But Firefox features tend to trend more towards, "here's a cool thing like the ability to debug shaders". Chrome's trend more towards, "here's a useful thing like the ability to debug Javascript."

Firefox's web tools are slightly different, but very comparable.

Firefox container tabs are game changing.

Container tabs just makes up for lack of easy profile switching (at least on macOS, not sure about Windows or Linux), which was in Chrome for years. Even after it came, I gave it a try and found it pretty cumbersome.

(Before I get you-can-do-this-and-that replies, I know Profile Manager exists, and that's an ugly hack: macOS users should not need to run multiple copies of the same app bundle.)

No, container tabs are fundamentally different than just supporting different profiles, in that how it extends that concept allows for a whole new mode of use. Container tabs allows for domains to be tagged to always (or sometimes, with a prompt) open in a specific container, so after you've correctly configured it, you don't ever have to switch profiles. If I click a link to Amazon, it opens in my Amazon/shopping container. If I open a link to Goodreads, it does the same. If I open a link to any of the banking sites I need to use for different car/house/card payments, that automatically goes in it's own container.

The big thing that's different with container tabs is that after you set it up (which is done little by little as you decide to open something in a specific tab and then mark it to always open there), it's not something you actively manage, it passively does what you want. That's why it's so different.

Having every site be it's own container (which is also a mode Firefox supports, to my knowledge) would be slightly more passive, but also likely cause problems with some sites that use multiple domains, so I think container tabs is a good compromise (for now) that allows good compartmentalization while also allowing escape hatches for sires that require it.

If you think different profiles is comprable to container tabs, you haven't really understood how to use container tabs, or possibly even what container tabs are for.

Profile switching takes more steps to use than container tabs: 0.

Profile switching takes one step to use: cycle through windows.

Firefox's developer tools are quite powerful, I'd recommend trying them for a bit and getting used to working with them.

If you ultimately do want to keep using chrome for the dev tools, you can switch your primary browser to ff and use Chromium (without signing in at all) just for that purpose. There's no reason you have to use your primary browser for your web development work.

Maybe you should ditch Gmail instead?

I would love to do this. However the warnings signs have blared into a real crisis: Google Docs has a stranglehold on “work”, in the broadest sense of the term, the way Microsoft Office once did. Until documents are decoupled from corporate lock-in on a mass scale, I’m personally stuck & likely many others are.

Well the problem I'm trying to solve is "how to use gmail on chromium without syncing to google" not "how to use email that isn't gmail".

I like gmail web mail a lot, and don't have any desire to switch. It seems absurd that my web browser would be incompatible with that.

Firefox, Edge, Safari, pretty much all non-chromium browsers are compatible with gmail.

For now. For example, Hangout video chat worked in Safari (much better than Chrome even). The new Meet video chat does not work in Safari.

Would you mind to explain how using gmail is fine but having to log in into chrome is not?

I obviously get the idea of privacy. But using gmail somewhat contradicts it.

No it doesn't! When you use GMail, you understand that Google have some potential sight of your emails and you accept that because that's how it works.

What you DIDN'T sign up for is Chrome, which can see every site you have every visited, sending all of that info to Google as well to perhaps start targetting some different ads at you. I'm sure that would work well if one of your housemates had visited a dodgy site, which then picks up some suspect ads when you are doing online shopping with your girlfriend.

Maybe switch to Firefox and use their accounts toggle feature. It lets you separate out sessions for particular sites. It’s not “chromium” but it works well for what you are asking for as far as I can tell.

>Would you mind to explain how using gmail is fine but having to log in into chrome is not?

Well, I've sort of just accepted that Google has all of my personal data at this point. I trust them with data that I want to explicitly give up for the sake of convenience. Anything I type into Gmail I can accept as becoming essentially public record.

However, that doesn't extend to passively collected browsing data. It creeps the shit out of me that my private browsing history could be associated to my real life identity and other PII by someone at Google.

Maybe you should ditch Gmail instead?

I'm thinking about doing that.

The single reason I started with GMail was because at the time, it had the best spam filter in the industry.

But that was years ago. Has everyone else caught up? Is there another option with equally good spam filtering?

I use both ProtonMail and FastMail for different purposes, and am considering switching my FastMail account to the main one. It may not be as well integrated, but that's kindof a boon. GMail's new user interface is _really_ clunky. (I know I can switch to classic mode, but I'd rather just switch to something else entirely.)

It appears that GMail addresses attract more spam.

IMO, options like ProtonMail are much better. A service that isn't free but doesn't exploit users in order to make $$ ought to be a better option.

I used to self-host because I could run really strict spam filtering. Unfortunately Sonic dropped their plans to offer static IPs and reverse DNS with their fiber products so I'm stuck with using their servers as a smarthost at least. Can't say I enjoy it (especially with their all-day outage this week), but it does give me a chance to at least easily run aggressive spamassasin filters.

I have a self-hosted domain too, with docker-mailserver, but only for less important email. For important communications I really worry about ending up on a spam list somewhere and landing directly in people's spam box, plus there are potential downtime concerns, so I stick to GSuite for that.

I've had a couple occasions where things have disappeared into the void. This was, of course, after moving away from a static IP (thanks Sonic). On the inbound side, I've had repeated delivery problems with Sonic blackholing mail from some financial institutions.

Otherwise I've had pretty good luck.

If you're really set on a Chrome-like browser, there's ungoogled chromium. Otherwise, I guess Firefox is the only truly free choice at this point, and even that includes DRM to be able to cope with sites like Netflix.

Edit: actually, there should be more browsers that I don't know about because I haven't really looked around anymore since choosing Firefox a decade ago. Is anything as well-supported (in terms of proper rendering and security, as well as being FOSS / privacy-conscious) that I should look at other than ungoogled chromium?

Brave and Vivaldi are both based on Chromium and have packaged, non-Google distributions.

I'm posting this comment on Brave, having switched over last week for most of my personal browsing. Generally like it a lot; there are a couple warts (it won't open S3 URLs from the AWS web interface, for example), but it does most of what I need in a browser.

Vivaldi still has Google features like search and safebrowsing which report everything you type into the URL bar and every site you visit to Google by default. Simply "not packaged by Google" doesn't guarantee non-Google.

You can interact with SafeSearch in one of two ways: by sending a URL hash to Google, or by downloading the list of URLs and performing your checks locally.

As a replacement for Chrome on your PC, Brave takes the second approach, and performs the evaluation locally (pulling down a fresh list every so often for up-to-date comparisons). You'll have to check with Vivaldi on which approach they take.

Brave has all of the phone-home-to-Google logic removed. If you ever spot anything at all that gives you concern, do feel free to let us know.

Sampson (Brave Developer Relations)

I just spotted something after updating Brave this evening. Included in the update was the version bump to Chromium 69 - and when I re-launched Brave, there was a popup saying "Here are the new features in Chrome 69", and clicking on it took me to a Google-hosted page listing all the ways in which Chrome 69 phones home for a safer, faster, more convenient browsing experience.

After having just posted here, it was...disconcerting. I'd like to give you guys the benefit of the doubt, but you may want to check a fresh update & relaunch from 0.23 to 0.24. I doubt I could reproduce (I've already clicked past it, and it was only on the first re-launch), but for a moment I was pretty confused about what browser was open (in fact, the only reason I'm certain it's Brave is because I just double-checked my Chrome and it's still on 0.68). Brave 0.24, V8 6.9.427.23, rev f657f15, macOS x64 (10.11.6 El Capitan), OS Release 15.6.0, Brave Sync v1.4.2, libchromiumcontent 69.0.3497.100.

Firefox DRM is only downloaded after explicit user consent.

Firefox currently downloads the (Google Widevine) DRM blob automatically. Firefox will prompt you before using the DRM blob to play video, but you have two options if you don't want it on your computer:

* You can uncheck Firefox's "Play DRM-controlled content" option (which will delete the DRM blob from disk). https://support.mozilla.org/kb/enable-drm

* Or you can install one of Mozilla's "EME-free" builds of Firefox. The only difference between regular and "EME-free" builds is the default value of the "Play DRM-controlled content" option.


I'm using Ubuntu's Chromium package and it isn't "un-googled" at all (69.0.3497.81-0ubuntu0.18.04.1). Any Ubuntu users have tips?

Chromium != ungoogled chromium, also not when it comes from FOSS repositories.

This is ungoogled chromium: https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

Thank you for clarifying (and sibling who posted the same!).

I'm guessing that the parent is referring to this particular build/"fork": https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

I think they were referring to https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium (which I suspect is not what Ubuntu ships)

Firefox is completely ungoogled once you change the default search engine.

Except for the Google Analytics embedded into the extension system.

Really? Do you have a source for this?

I assume they're talking about the use of google analytics on the about:addons page discussed here: https://github.com/mozilla/addons-frontend/issues/2785

Two things to note from that thread:

From what I've read, Mozilla had some agreement with Google to keep all the data from their tracking stuff silo'ed so it wasn't aggregated with other data and wasn't used for anything besides showing back to Mozilla people.


They're now (and have been for more than a year) respecting DNT, removing the GA code so that you don't make any requests to google if you have that enabled.

So is it disabled by default since Firefox now sends Do Not Track by default?

No. It's excluded by default, and only blocked if the user manually enables Do Not Track in the Preferences section.

And blocked site list, right? I forgot the name but there is this anti-phishing and -malware list with 40% false-positives that Firefox uses and is maintained by Google.

Which you can disable.

Right, but the parent comment was claiming that Firefox is ungoogled after only one setting.

Well, with Firefox I have a separate issue which is that I never know when an update will include default-enabled integration with Pocket, a phone service, or some other startup that's scratched Mozilla's back in the past six months. So Firefox isn't a replacement. Also I was badly burned by Firefox removing support for XUL extensions, and refuse to depend on that browser again. I have serious misgivings with how Firefox is managed. You're not being helpful since you know I know about Firefox, and my question is about Chrome.

They ditched proprietary extensions in favor of an open spec than any other browser can use... I mean WebExtensions are here to stay and for the greater good. I can't understand blind hatred towards a move towards an open source alternative.

As for Firefox including Pocket, they own Pocket for starters, and it's less annoying than Edge or Chrome pushing their analytics filled services. There's a lot less cruft on Firefox than in other browsers. If I really wanted I could use one of the GNU forks of Firefox, though I'm not sure how much more privacy conscious they may be aside from a bunch of brand rework.

Proprietary? By that standard, Firefox is proprietaty because they roll their own browser. Just because it's custom doesn't make it proprietary.

And I also got burned by the very badly managed WebExtensions thing. I can totally see where GP is coming from.

well, you could always try that thing called Firefox. I can log into Gmail just fine.

For me it was early on during the time where Chrome was new. First they didn't support plugins so adblockers were not working so I'd see ads and pop ups everywhere. Next they did support adblockers but they sucked due to API limitations. I realized then that they were primarily an ad company, I know the adblockers have somewhat improved for Chrome but I went back to Firefox and never bothered again. I only use Chrome / Chromium for web development.

Go to Brave - it's fantastic.

Thanks for for reminding me to try that out again. It felt a bit rough at launch but I've been using it all day now and I think I'll switch for good.

I’m confused. Are you really claiming you can’t log into gmail in non google browsers? And this comment was upvoted?

Sorry. I call BS.

For those who've switched over to Firefox recently and find Youtube inexplicably slow, it's "because YouTube's Polymer redesign relies on the deprecated Shadow DOM v0 API only implemented in Chrome." [0]

The YouTube Classic extension will speed things up: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/youtube-class...

[0] https://twitter.com/cpeterso/status/1021626510296285185

I'm on the Polymer team at Google. We've been helping the YouTube team, who's been doing a ton of work to update to the final v1 version of the webcomponent specs. So far it's a bit neck and neck between Firefox launching version 63 with native web component support (eta October) and YouTube switching the main desktop app over.

These are new standards, and there were a number of breaking changes from the v0 specs to v1. It's a lot of code to update, but we're working super hard to get all of Google onto v1.

Thanks for the update.

Shame about all the conspiracy theories regarding this topic. It seemed likely enough to boil down to a logical explanation.

fwiw if you read the rest of that thread on Twitter it explains that Youtube is not using Shadow DOM v0, the slowness is likely related to polyfills for HTML Imports, and the next version of Polymer no longer uses those to resolve issues like this.

Also Chrome is actively removing the web standards that didn't end up being adopted broadly: https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/forum/m/#!topic/bli...

So YouTube will end up just as slow in other browsers unless they upgrade to a newer polymer that uses the broadly implemented standards.

Seems that the days of "Best viewed in browser X" have come back sadly.

When you give a browser a 70% market share it will always start abusing its position. Same as last time.

Microsoft left IE6 stagnant. They didn't "abuse their position" other than through inactivity.

Google is actively involved in the standardization process, and moved Youtube over to a new API too prematurely (v0 of a spec). Now that v1 has been standardized, they're updating to that instead.

These are opposite problems. Microsoft got complacent whereas Google moved too fast.

It's more of an OS issue here. Google doesn't view Android as a separate line of business. It's merely a moat for the search business. There's no way for an OS to be a moat for another business without abusing the OS.

Firefox will not, because they don't control youtube or google.com, or facebook or any major website. One of the reasons they are the best.

Haha gov't websites and banks here in my country is still best viewed (or only works) in Internet Explorer.

Oddly enough I haven't had too many issues with YouTube's slowness (as a Firefox user). I mean, it's slow, but "tolerable". It's the new Gmail that's horrifically slow now. It takes a good 20 seconds to get to the point where I can interact with it, and then each interaction takes another 10 seconds.

Shadow DOM v0 is deprecated in Chrome and will be removed in April 2019. https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/09/chrome-70-...

This is like Microsoft and IE all over again.

I mean, polymer also broke most of the chromecast functionality in google's own browser to the point that I have to use ?disable_polymer=1 to really use it at all from a browser (really I mostly just use it from my phone now), so this doesn't seem terribly surprising by comparison.

YouTube works fine for me in Firefox on OS X with 6 year old hardware.

YouTube fixed something a few days after that post. I no longer experience the slowness it was describing in Firefox.

Is that the same reason why reddit is so slow in Firefox?

Try using mpv + youtube-dl to stream Youtube. It even has playlist/mix support.

I feel so stupid for not knowing this existed; thanks a lot.

I engaged with the folks pushing this feature internally when my own browser started enforcing omnidirectional login. One of my specific complaints was that it was an end-run around the user-provided sync passphrase, which nominally prevents Google from hoovering up my logged-out history.

They didn't grok my privacy issue. Maybe they were deliberately misunderstanding me. Doesn't matter either way. Now I use Firefox.

Google's culture breeds internal arrogance and blindness to outside concerns. Arguing with Google people about issues with their products is approximately as effective as arguing with a brick wall.

This is the culture of having hundreds of millions of users. One user asking for something is just a data point and you have to rely on user research and surveys to know what users really want on average. But surveys have their blind spots as well.

The thing is, as a developer without having access to user research, all I know is what I want, and as a developer I assume I'm atypical. Whether it corresponds to what anyone else wants is questionable.

The opposite of this is people who assume that whatever they personally want is Obviously the Right Thing For All Users. You will find that attitude everywhere on the Internet. And that has its own flaws.

That’s unfortunately even true years after they left Google.

Wouldn't it make Google people to think when opened HN they found top 3 as it is for now - "1. Modifications to Google Chromium for removing Google integration", "2. Why I’m done with Chrome", "3. News Site to Investigate Big Tech, Helped by Craigslist Founder"?

No, a brick wall doesn't stare at you blankly. Nor does it argue back arrogantly and defy you that whatever Google wants is best.

I stopped using Chrome when I wanted to have downloads automatically save to the desktop (no dialog).

Turned out, there was a 2 year old open bug on the missing feature, in which Google UX engineers repeatedly argued allowing the save location to be changed was counter to the desired user experience.

I switched to Firefox the next day and haven't touched Chrome since.

Was that a long time ago? Chrome has supported the option of a fixed download location for many years. I don't remember it ever not having that option, in all the time I've used it.

Correction: I think it was the ability to turn off the in-window "downloaded file bar" pop-up, which could(?) only be dismissed by manually closing it.

There are a lot of different bug reports out there asking for a flag, and apparently the Chrome team added one, then disabled it a few patches latter.

I forget what I was doing at the time (downloading PDFs for a uni course?). But it was a pain in the ass, of dubious utility anyway, and the cavalier UX attitude of "father knows best" left a really bad taste.


They can't just put in every random feature that anyone shows up and suggests.

They do seem to put a lot of not so random features that no users have asked for.

Also, eventually brink walls break down. Google on the other hand doubles down the depth and breadth of its overreach.

This is the culture of monopoly. The same can be said of that other monopoly, government.

This may be true, but it's definitely not unique to Google. I know some well-meaning leftists who work for the leading Social Network and don't see any contradiction in that.

I could imagine a high-flying company having entitled employees, I just don't see the qualitative difference between this or that company. Please enlighten me if I'm missing the point.

And lest I sound arrogant myself: I once worked in Pharma and made my peace with the price vs R&D logic.

Well, every day there is more and more evidence ahoyt how R&D excuses in relation to the price later are that, excuses to win more money and they do not share the real investments numbers


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" --- Upton Sinclair

Ummm, leftism has a long history of invasive mass surveillance and questionable social engineering practices, so I don’t really see the contradiction here...

Well, most of the fighting against "invasive mass surveillance and questionable social engineering practices" has also been done by leftists, so there's that...

Centrist average Joes usually don't care about such things, and right wingers applaud them to help the police and such.

As for libertarians they are against them when it's by the government, but fine with them when a private company (even one the size of a small nation) does it as part of a "voluntary" employment contract.

True. There’s the hippie leftist archetype, and the commissar leftist archetype. It’s a spectrum, so they say!

To me spectrum implies a single dimension, i.e. the spectrum of light is just based on wavelength. But this metaphor doesn't really fit with politics, which at best can be reduced to two dimensions (in my opinion), and realistically is a lot more.

Realistically the left/right spectrum is orthogonal to the authoritarian/libertarian spectrum. Classic liberalism is, I think, more aligned with the right but also profoundly anti-authoritarian. Similarly, the left has a proud tradition of supporting individual liberty but also a strong tradition of suppressing it in favour of collective power.

Corporations of all stripes tend towards authoritarianism though, in my view. It is a natural structure when you have agents using someone else's capital.

No. The claim is that all corporations tend toward authoritarianism. Left and middle and right. Not at all horseshoe theory.

You are conflating leftism with authorarisam

It's not a matter of arrogance but of money. You have to understand when it comes to google, you are the product, not the customer. Google's real customers are big ad buyers. They listen to large ad buyers. Look how quickly they "cleaned" up search results and youtube videos when ad buyers complained.

Us complaining to google about poor treatment is like sheep complaining to shepherds or vegetables complaining to the farmer about poor treatment. Nobody would care. But if the shepherd or farmer's customers complained, they would listen very closely because it affects their bottom line.

Especially now that google has a monopoly position on search and online videos, they have even less reason to care about what the products ( you and me ) say.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

-- Upton Sinclair (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upton_Sinclair)

This feature doesn’t enable sync. That’s something that members of the Chrome team have been patiently trying to explain to Matthew Green on Twitter for several days now.

[0] https://twitter.com/__apf__/status/1043505744144826369?s=21

Did you even read the article? He stated several times that the problem isn’t that sync is or isn’t enabled after the change; it’s the silent push of an update that directly violates user consent, and it widens the mouth of the user funnel-trap by quite a lot.

Also, the fact that they've gone from "The user decides when to log in, and when to sync" to "We decide when to log in but the user decides when to sync" doesn't inspire trust that they won't soon move to "We decide when to log in or sync".

It doesn't for _now_. Which is no small part of his point. The next step is to automatically turn on sync etc, which is an easier step now people will start to be used to the idea they're automatically signed in to stuff in Chrome.

The main thrust though, is that this doesn't actually solve anything for end users that the Google Chrome team says it does. There appears to be absolutely no benefit in turning this on.

The main thrust though, is that this doesn't actually solve anything for end users that the Google Chrome team says it does. There appears to be absolutely no benefit in turning this on.

Over the last year or so, it feels more and more like Google, as a company, is getting desperate. Like it feels the external tide of popular opinion turning against it. But rather than mend its ways, a decision has been made somewhere to slurp up as much information as possible as quickly and quietly as possible, before it all comes tumbling down around it.

I wonder if GDPR was the turning point. Even my boss, who on a computer literacy scale of Linda Lovelace to Ada Lovelace ranks near the bottom of the scale, asked me to explain GDPR to her.

It's not GDPR. If anything, GDPR will help undo some of this as test cases in the EU are litigated.

I think the change happened shortly after Ruth Porat was brought on and the Alphabet reorganization was announced (Larry Page wanted to retire without having that be the headline). There was clearly a change in mandate to start monetizing more aggressively and you started seeing the ad load increase across all their properties. That all happened during a lull in Google's stock price. It started trending upwards after Porat signaled to investors that all the money pits would be cut back.

Is Linda Lovelace famous for having poor computer literacy? I know her for something else.

How does your boss' opinion of GDPR relate to her opinion of Google?

I think it was also more advertisers switching to facebook and new ones giving fb ads a try first and not even considering Google ads (btw the rebranding from Google adworfs is another sign that Google is losing new advertisers to FB and yet another thing pointing to that desperation).

This ultimately affects Google's future growth and it's why you'll see Google do more such "desperate" moves like trying to become a military contractor, building its own iPhone-like phones, tracking users more aggressively, and I imagine android users will soon see os-wide ads, too.

I imagine android users will soon see os-wide ads, too.

Except they won't be OS-wide, they'll be Play Services wide and mandatory if you're an vendor including Play Services.

If you don't want Google's ads, you can go do your own thing on AOSP like Amazon and other largely-flopped attempts.

> The main thrust though, is that this doesn't actually solve anything for end users that the Google Chrome team says it does.

Yes it does, it solves the exact problem described right in the article. Before this change, there would be a seperate log-in process for Chrome versus every other google service (which normally all share your current login status). Now, your login status is shared between every google service including Chrome, as a layperson would expect. Previously people who wanted to be logged into Chrome AND other google services would have to complete the login process twice which could be confusing for novice users.

> there would be a seperate log-in process for Chrome versus every other google service

Chrome is not a Google service. It is a web browser. It should act like one.

Google clearly considers Chrome to be a Google service and not just a web browser.

Is that just your opinion, or do you genuinely believe most Chrome users see it that way?

We could apply the principle of least astonishment to get a feel for correct behaviour without resorting to sterile arguments about what proportion of users understand the difference between a web site and a web browser.

If they looked at a slightly risque URL on their phone, would the average user expect Chrome on their laptop to autocomplete that URL?

The current behavior does not activate syncing by default in spite of the slippery slope arguments being made here. Furthermore i think most users would in fact expect syncing like that to work with minimal configuration in this day and age.

Please be civil with people who have a different perspective. The implication that the opposing position is outmoded is not a logical argument, it's an insulting one. "In this day and age," I'd think we could learn to be less dismissive of people.

Well he was replying to me and I didn't read him as uncivil at all.

His response ("syncing is expected") is completely on-point when talking about the PoLS. I disagree, obviously, and think syncing is scary voodoo magic. I don't see how you can say "users are unsophisticated and don't understand the difference between web sites and web browsers" and also say "users are sophisticated and expected config syncing".

Unfortunately, to get any further we have to test users.

If I’m not mistaken, this also ensures that when you sign out of Gmail, you are signed out of Chrome (no?). That seems like a win for user privacy, insofar as it addresses the likely failure mode of mistakenly leaving the browser signed in after signing out of the website.

Yes, this pauses sync when you sign out of Gmail.

No. Pauses sync but doesn't sign out Chrome. So a person could still see your history/bookmarks/passwords in the logged-in browser. They just can't wipe your cloud data (which I think was the same before this update).

You mean they can see local history? Sure, but that’s true in most browsers. That’s nothing to do with your signed in state, right?

Yes I was thinking about chrome profiles. My mistake. But from what I remember, when you choose to log out, Chrome prompts you if you want to wipe your local data. So logging out locally allows you to protect some data. I think there was a way to log out remotely (tricky/weird way), though again without the local-wipe prompt.

I also just tried signing in to chrome (69.0.3497.100), and it tried to sync immediately again, so I'm not sure where the "sync is optional" idea comes from?

> there would be a seperate log-in process for Chrome versus every other google service (which normally all share your current login status).

Sorry, not much of a Chrome user here. Why would I want to “sign in” to a web browser? I’ve been browsing the web successfully for decades without doing so. I don’t sign in to my text editor either.

I understand the privacy concerns, but I find it very useful as I go between desktop and laptop often. It syncs bookmarks, history, tabs, settings, autofill, extensions, etc.. There have been plugins for this stuff for decades as well, so it is something that people find useful.

"We had to enable the sync by default because it was causing confusion with people that are already signed in and are expecting to have all their info in sync".

It's not hard to imagine that this could be their reasoning around the change in the future.

It shows a big blue banner (or is it a button? I don't dare click it) announcing the current state as "Sync as <username>". If the developers need to explain this repeatedly over twitter to a professional, what impression do you think normal users who don't follow a niche twitter discussion get?

I received a call from a client complaining about no longer being able to switch between their gmail accounts (which you normally do by clicking on your avatar in the top right corner of the gmail app on desktop).

After a bit of back and forth, I asked for a screenshot. They sent me a photo of the screen and it became apparent that they were clicking on this new avatar embedded in the browser chrome rather than the gmail app avatar below it.

> what impression do you think normal users who don't follow a niche twitter discussion get?

I imagine they don’t care one way or the other.

My father is a retired biochemist, inventor, and small-business owner. He does not use Twitter.

If he came across this, I expect that he would definitely notice that something seemed unusual. Once it became clear what was happening, I expect he would switch away from Chrome.

How little you think of people.

I think most people have more important things to do than worry about whether Google knows where they’ve been online.

Edit: To clarify, I care about whether Google knows where I've been online. That's why I don't use Chrome. I just don't think most people care.

If it were only that simple.

Now that Google knows, who else can find out? Someone Google trusts? Someone that pays Google enough money?

Lets sell your browsing data to whoever wants to buy it. What kind of risks would that create for you and your family?

> I just don't think most people care.

Every single person I've explained how much data Google et al's regularly collect has cared a lot. My mother's first comment after hearing what Android and Chrome collect was, "Why aren't the in jail?"

Unfortunately, most of these people continue to use Google's services because they often don't have a choice or are not aware of alternatives. Please, actually talk to people outside your bubble and get their actual opinion (which might require educating them about the specifics of what the tech is doing).

I’m sure people at FaceBook said the same smug things until they crossed a line they never saw coming, and now it’s all congressional hearings and “heartfelt” apologies. It’s true, you can dick a lot of people over for a long time, but you’re just breeding backlash. It will come, in waves, and if your history is defined by a kind of arrogant dismissal of their concerns you’ll be screwed.

Yes, but that's because they are uninformed about the humongous amount of data they're voluntarily handing out and how much can be deducted about their day-to-day lives using that data. If they'd know, like - really properly understand, I suspect that they might not be so eager to hand it over.

Well I went to turn this login thing off and the only way to do it was to click a button under the heading "Sync" that said "Turn Off."

But if these things are unrelated, I guess we'll just have to chalk that up to Google's famously shitty product management and design skills.

Sync and log in are two unrelated settings. They were never related (except that you had to be logged in to be able to sync).

You could always be logged in and not sync. You just had previously chosen to be logged in and synced.

By disabling syncing, you turned off a feature that you previously had to have opted in to.

No, previously if you logged in sync was enabled - TFA and googles own privacy policy explain this quite clearly.

I'm pretty sure you could still turn it off while remaining logged in.

You could uncheck the boxes, but by default they were all checked and everything started syncing the moment you signed in.

I remember because it bothered me to have to wipe my passwords from some random pc I was using just because I wanted my bookmarks.

Nope, clicking "Turn Off" under sync says:

> This will sign you out of your Google accounts.

And sure enough, it signs you out of gmail and the browser. So it's sign in to the browser, or no gmail for you.

Sync and log in are two unrelated settings. They were never related

I know what I saw. I was logged in, then I wasn't after I turned off Sync. They may not be related technically, but in the UI they are part and parcel.

Interesting, that's not what I recall, but apparently that's how it was.

Thanks for correcting me!

He understood it and it's mentioned there in the blog post.

For now. The next step in the dark pattern is to note the "User confusion that arises when chrome is logged in to the account, but the data is not synced", and automatically turn on sync.

And as he describes in the blog, this fact is utterly irrelevant.

I’m wondering where the source of truth for the sync setting is stored. If I enable sync on one chrome browser — then in another chrome browser on another device log into gmail (triggering chrome login) — will browser history sync be enabled on that second device?

Reading that thread, Green knows this and his argument is more subtle then that.

From the response quoted in the article:

So in theory your data should remain local

That doesn't sound very reassuring to me. Especially long term.

> response quoted in the article

tbf, this is followed by

> This is my paraphrase

Wow, I don't know how I missed that. Thank you.

(Side note sort of related from another related article - apparently you can opt-out of the unified login, but the flag that lets you opt-out is broken as of chrome canary 71)

I switched to Firefox some years ago but still dabbled with Chrome, up until FF introduced multi-account containers that is.

Performance results always seem to be subjective, but in my opinion Quantum made FF an absolute beast, even when running the usual lot of security add-ons like NoScript, uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, etc.

However, Firefox Containers I would argue is the number one feature from a usability standpoint. Being able to wall off cookies/supercookies, trackers, and work with multiple identities simultaneously in tabs (especially when using Google services) changes the entire relationship one has with the browser account, website accounts, bookmarks, and productivity.

Containers is one of many Firefox test pilot projects that are really thoughtful (FF Send is another). Pair that with great cross-device compatibility, Firefox Focus for mobile and the general granularity of about:config and you have yourself a browser you can both trust and call your own.

It also doesn't hurt that Mozilla isn't evil; all things considered.

FF Focus is based on Chromium.

Yes that's true. I referenced Focus more as a nod to their development of a lightweight privacy-focused mobile browser without bells and whistles, and marketing it next to their regular mobile browser with equal attention.

Notably though, Focus is on track to move away from it's Chromium roots:

"The switch from Chrome WebView to Gecko doesn’t seem to be performance related. Instead, the reason has to do with the core goal of FireFox Focus in the first place: privacy. Mozilla has found a reason to believe that the Chrome WebView engine can leak someone’s data. So in the spirit of maintaining data privacy, the team behind Firefox Focus has decided to switch to the Gecko engine." [0,1]

[0] https://www.xda-developers.com/firefox-focus-switching-chrom...

[1] https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/focus-android/wiki/Release...

I switched to firefox (linux) several years ago for my main browser and I couldn't be happer. I also run chromium when some webpage isn't working in firefox (rare) or when I need to use my companies LastPass account (I avoid LastPass in firefox because that plugin sucks balls), but I never use chromium for google services. I run all google services in a "google" multi-account container in firefox.

Were you taking about the old plugin pre webextensions?

Because I haven't noticed any difference between Chrome and FF extensions now.

No, I mean that I don't want the plugin operating unless I need it to be operating. And maybe the plugin is better now, but it used to agressively autofill my passwords into forms that were not password forms, and agressively ask me questions I did not want to be bothered answering.

Google is incentivized to do this, they make good money off of it. It’s boring and true. They’ll keep doing stuff like this until it reaches some publicly unacceptable limit.

Until then use browsers like Firefox or Safari where the incentive to be creepy is far smaller.

> They’ll keep doing stuff like this until it reaches some publicly unacceptable limit

Which as we know from things like Facebook, that limit will never be reached. These things are far too opaque for the general public to understand or care about. Even we software engineers barely understand the scope of what Google is capable of. It's going to take a principled stance from within the industry to push back against the encroachment of these corporations on personal privacy.

I'm not sure that's true. Facebook numbers have been falling for a while and I'm sure part of that is backlash over privacy abuses. https://www.recode.net/2018/2/12/16998750/facebooks-teen-use...

And yet it's rising significantly when it comes to Instagram where they are employing the exact same business model.

> These things are far too opaque for the general public to understand or care about.

Or perhaps your preference is a minority opinion, and most people will trade privacy for convenience even when fully informed and aware of Google's behavior

>Or perhaps your preference is a minority opinion, and most people will trade privacy for convenience even when fully informed and aware of Google's behavior

That's kind of my whole point. Regular people don't really understand the implications of what's possible with all this data even when you tell them exactly what's happening, and so they gladly give it up in the name of convenience. They don't realize it has value, and is dangerous in the hands of bad actors when aggregated in large amounts. It's going to take people on the inside growing a spine and standing up for the rights of all users over advancing the monopoly on private data for whatever web based surveillance apparatus they're currently being paid to work on.

If Google's decision-making processes were as blatantly short-sighted as you seem to make them out to be, they would have prevented ad blockers years ago.

Another wrinkle with this: if your account is with a private G Suite instance, logging into the browser can have a profound effect since it will apply any management policies. This will probably be sold as a security enhancement - you can’t access your organizations data without active management (at least, if you’re using Chrome), but for users with access to multiple G Suite domains, this will become a real nuisance.

When I last had to do it, adding a managed G Suite account to Chrome warns the user that it will allow the browser to be controlled by the organization. It would make sense that this same warning would show up in this scenario.

So if you pay for a G-suite account it's safe to say google does not mine your data?

Would multiple profile / personas help for this?

I understand why people are angry here, but

the argument of consistency between logged-in account and browser account makes total sense from a UX point of view. Even for power users it's sometimes confusing why you have to log in twice.

And yes, of course if you're not logged in this chrome then this problem doesn't apply but most people are actually logged in and the article just skims over that.

To be frank, I think the ship has already sailed.

* Where were all these cryptography engineering folk when Google decided that it didn't have to ask any permissions to install autoupdates to Chrome?

* Subsequently, instructions were published on how to disable the autoupdate — published by Google itself, mind you — yet somehow after some time has passed, the same versions of Chrome that were supposed to have stopped looking for updates were somehow able to magically automatically update themselves in the end after a number of releases anyways — so much for the browser being secure against remote execution attacks by a powerful-enough party!

BTW, if you think Brave is any better, they refused to disable the autoupdate. https://github.com/brave/browser-laptop/issues/1877 TBH, between the lines, I got the impression that it's part of the business plan, where an outdated browser is basically worthless to them as an investment anyways, so, spending any engineering resources on such causes is fundamentally not worth it. Who cares about the good-will of the user if there are so few alternatives anyways?! So, I basically stopped using Brave at that point, as I didn't feel like being the product.

Mozilla may have gone away with asking for your permission to download and install the update as well, but at least there's still a clear setting in the interface which lets you be the boss, and, compared to the quirks that Brave may offer, at least once configured, you do know they won't go behind your back to do the dirty work anyways.

For now at least, there's this escape hatch: chrome://flags/#account-consistency

Edit: Some are saying this doesn't work on Chrome 69. :(

A better escape hatch is https://mozilla.org

Granted, Mozilla's had their own issues and some apps / sites may have become as dependent on Chrome as sites were on IE way back when. But given Google's flexing their control muscles over the last few years, a clean break is probably the better long term solution.

Question: How do I sign extensions I wrote for myself so I can actually use them, without uploading a copy of the extension somewhere? That's my roadblocker right now. I don't know how to migrate make my own extensions work on my own system without uploading them to other people's servers. (Yes, I want Firefox stable. I don't want to run a buggy browser.)

You can run either Firefox ESR or the unbranded builds [1] if you want unsigned extensions, but I'm curious what your concerns are with the unlisted extensions option from Mozilla?

1 - https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing#Unbranded...

> You can run either Firefox ESR

Then I have the exact same problem when support dies in the coming months though.

> or the unbranded builds [1]

Interesting, so does this mean that if I want stable builds, I'd have to manually update to the exact unbranded counterpart of that stable version?

> I'm curious what your concerns are with the unlisted extensions option from Mozilla?

I guess because I really don't see what business they have forcing me to upload my extensions to their servers? Same reason why people don't like uploading Chrome stuff to Google servers?



I'm trying out the unbranded builds and running into a problem when I try to use my existing profile: disabling signature checking doesn't work. However, it works on a fresh profile. Not sure what the problem is...

> Then I have the exact same problem when support dies in the coming months though.

Good news! Even Firefox ESR 60 always you to disable the mandatory signature checks by setting the "xpinstall.signatures.required" pref = false. The Mozilla add-on wiki was a little unclear, so I just manually verified that the "xpinstall.signatures.required" pref works correctly in Firefox ESR 60. :)


I know this is exactly what you're trying to avoid, but could you upload an example unsigned extension? I'll try to figure it out, could be a bug somewhere.

Thank you for offering to help! I actually just figured out how to fix it right now myself. The solution is to delete the following lines in prefs.js, then restart unbranded-Firefox twice:

  user_pref("extensions.databaseSchema", 27);
  user_pref("extensions.e10s.rollout.policy", "50allmpc");
The first start takes longer, so I can tell it's resetting something internally (not sure what). However, the second restart is what makes it start working. Not sure why.


For anyone else trying to auto-obtain the latest stable Firefox nightly, here's a hacky command (change for your OS as needed):

  curl -s "https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing" | sed -n "0,/Windows 64-bit Installer/{s/.*href=\"\\(https:[^\"]*\\.zip\\)\">Windows 64-bit Installer<.*/\\1/p}"

Glad to hear you worked it out, good luck! Looking around there are a few levels of cache around whether addons are enabled, I guess those are what you need to clear it.

It's a temporary hack, but you might also want to look at temporarily loading extensions with about:debugging, this works even in official release.

Yeah the temporary thing was already working in the official release, but it's temporary so I was looking for the normal way. Thanks! :)

You have to use Firefox Developer Edition and change 'xpinstall.signatures.required' to True in about:config

What about the part where I wrote

> Yes, I want Firefox stable. I don't want to run a buggy browser.

? Is the developer edition running the same code as stable?

Developer Edition is essentially Beta with a few changes (which means additional telemetry by default so probably not up your alley):

https://hacks.mozilla.org/2017/04/simplifying-firefox-releas... (edit for better link)

Yeah, I neither want beta nor telemetry...

fwiw even Nightly is quite stable these days, I can't remember when it last kept me from getting work done. And the addt'l telemetry is just a pref away.

I feel this should be weighed into the decision: https://medium.com/@neothefox/firefox-installs-add-ons-into-...

When you're looking for escape hatches, you know the software is working against you. At that point, it's better to move to an alternative browser, it's not worth it to fight it with hacks. If too many people use the escape hatch, they'll remove it.

It seems as though the needed escape hatch is a browser that simply CAN'T send info about you back to home base. Firefox might qualify, but I don't know for sure, and I don't want that to be our only option. There's a lot of great engineering that goes into Chrome.

So I'm wondering: Is enough code open sourced to make it possible for an organization such as Apache, GNU, or whatever, to create a sanitized fork of each new version of Chrome? This would be a version of Chrome with no privileged party other than its user. Every other party would be limited to the same set of features (cookies, local storage, etc.) that apply to all 2nd parties.

You might want to look into the Brave browser (https://brave.com), which is a commercial browser based on the Chromium code, funded by a micropayments idea, which tries to generally be more privacy-sensitive than the Google version.

As for a fully open-source version: here's a fairly recent summary (2017) of what's in Chrome and not in Chromium (the open-sourced subset):


There are other omissions that could get in the way of general usability; chromium also omits some proprietary licensed codecs, including the mp3 support.

However, Google synch support, etc, is left in -- and if you desire to keep that out, maintaining the patch set that does it without cooperation from upstream could be a hassle. Whenever they refactor of update the integration between synch and the rest of the browser, you need to make corresponding changes in the patch set that cuts all that out -- and at a fairly rapid pace, too, lest you find yourself unable to ship an urgent security update.

So, it's doable -- but at a price in usability, and doing it right requires some kind of continual effort. Which is what Brave is, in effect, trying to arrange with their payments-based funding scheme. And even a very capable person trying to do the project solo, on a volunteer basis, would be putting themselves at risk of burnout.

Does one really want to associate themselves with Brendan Eich though? Brave is what he has been building after being ejected from Mozilla.

While Brendan has built some interesting and useful things including Javascript, he is apparently poisonous enough to cause three of Mozilla's board members to resign, including a founding executive of Yahoo, the former CEO of AVG, and the former CEO of Mozilla Corp (from 2008 to 2010).

His wiki page is a good reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Eich

You're repeating a lot of misinformation. Here's a better reference:


The disagreements were about strategy and mobile experience, so not enough to call someone poisonous. Place Yahoo, AVG, and Moz Corp against Brendan's co-founder status and JavaScript.

The other toxic drama was about a 1000$ political donation. Very sad to see an unpopular view used to paint someone as a monster. If democratic political views are enough to kill someones career, it is more a sign of the toxicity of today's social media and activism than a character judgment.

> Does one really want to associate themselves with Brendan Eich though?

No, not really. Not a good political idea to align yourself with the black sheep. With all the tars and feathers he just looks weird.

Though it also works in his favor: Brave is popular amongst the alt-right and technical-minded early adopters. They see it more as character assassination and SJW corporate culture taking desperate vengeance for Trump's win.

The fact that Eich was pilloried after the fact for what was at the time a mainstream political opinion is absurd.

Brave is fantastic on android though.

> at the time

It was ten years ago. When people fussed about it it was six years old.

How many years back do political actions count as relevant?

> Is enough code open sourced to make it possible for an organization such as Apache, GNU, or whatever, to create a sanitized fork of each new version of Chrome?

Yes: https://wiki.qt.io/QtWebEngine

> Qt WebEngine uses code from the Chromium project. However, it is not containing all of Chrome/Chromium: Binary files are stripped out. Auxiliary services that talk to Google platforms are stripped out. The codebase is modularized to allow use of system libraries like OpenSSL. We do update to the latest Chromium version in use before a Qt release.

Here's a browser: https://www.qutebrowser.org/ I haven't tried it yet.


oh, it's already in the apt repos on debian testing :)

If it's connected to the internet, then it can send info to home base. The only way around this is code that's simple enough to audit and understand.

That ship sailed long ago for browsers -- if you care about auditability, you can't trust the web.

Exactly. I'll go further in saying a system or software should be considered insecure if it connects to Internet and wasn't designed/implemented with strong security. That's most stuff.

That's a red herring. We're not discussing a security bug -- the system is working as designed. The problem is that the goal is not desirable, and the standards and code are complex to the point that an independent implementation is intractable.

This doesn't answer your question, but I thought I'd mention: A lot of great engineering goes into Firefox too. I really think you ought to try the version of Firefox that enables WebRender by default, when it comes out. I've been using it in Nightly on Mac, and it's seriously worth trying.

> a browser that simply CAN'T send info about you back to home base

Unfortunatly that requires a large sacrifice: no Turing complete languages.


That was also my argument against all the "hacks" people posted online against Windows 10 tracking. Most of them were short-lived because Microsoft had an incentive to stop them from being used in the next update of Windows.

> When you're looking for escape hatches, you know the software is working against you.

I would say that when you're looking for escape hatches, you know the defaults don't match your personal preferences. I understand why some people don't like combined login. However, I personally prefer it, and I guess that the decision to add it was made on the basis of believing that most people would feel like I do, or at worst feel neutral.

Based on all the discussions I've had or seen with Google developers, they added it based on the basis of believing that most people should feel that you do, or at worst won't notice. It's unlikely that they considered privacy concerns, above and beyond "we can be trusted so it's fine".

I don't know who you are or whether you have had conversations with the people who are responsible for the feature. All I can say is that that does not match my perception of the typical way of doing things at Google, as someone who has been working there for a while. That said, I do not sit close to where this feature was built, so maybe they do things differently over there.

I know. I was just trying to help another poor soul like myself in the interim of figuring out how to switch. For me at least, it's very nontrivial work.

That is how I feel about my use of youtube-dl.

But youtube is so damn entrenched nowadays...

Maybe they've revised the flag, but the flag did not disable the feature as much as the text might lead you to believe. My comment from a couple weeks ago... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17943524

Thanks for letting me know! For some reason I don't see that on my toolbar, though I haven't tried creating a new profile. I'm on Chrome 68 on Windows, if that might explain anything?

This flag is not really working. Just checked it (chrome 69.0.3497.100)

Aw man. It's working on 68! Guess I have to avoid upgrading for now. Thanks.

So you're choosing a less-secure version of Chrome over just switching to Firefox? What makes you so loyal to Chrome?

Your comment is aggressively presumptive (and wrongly so) so I'm not inclined to respond directly. You can browse my last few comments if you're genuinely interested.

Doesn't work for me.

What version?

I tried 69 at the time. Haven't checked for a few days.

I agree with Matthew that the supposed problem this is solving doesn't seem to be an issue for the case where no one is logged in to Chrome. In addition it seems to me as if it has a non-invasive solution:

If A is signed in to Chrome, and the user then signs into gmail as B, sign A out of Chrome, perhaps with a notification telling them what to do.

Exactly! I'm really surprised they didn't think of this…

Is it just me who wishes all the organisations supporting user rights banded together and hit the market as a viable 3rd ecosystem of products?

All the Linux vendors, all the distributed social media (PeerTube, mastodon, hubzilla), all the private search engines like duckduckgo, all the open source hardware like Purism...

Imagine them doing an EU and pooling all their resources to produce a coherent yet distributed, open and free ecosystem with a browser by Firefox, search by DDG, OS by Linux, phone by Purism, etc...

They could cross-support each other's efforts, promote eacother etc.

I'd live there instead of Google/Microsoft/Facebook world.

The missing piece IMO is funding, but that may be something that the crypto-currency world could fill.

Not sure what the road to that world looks like, but we definitely need a contender because all of the major tech companies have become disturbingly anti-consumer.

Ubuntu's (failed) Kickstarter raised 12.8 million to build a phone which seems like a lot

Purism raised something like 2.5 and are using it to develop their first phone, and it seems to be going great, on track for April release.

Ubuntu etc are making money and doing good work.

While that's great, I think you're right. That for example, GNOME releases don't have nearly as much goodies as say Mac OS, because they're working with drastically less money and employees.

Take Firefox OS or Ubuntu touch. The amount of money being pumped into iOS and Android must be absolutely incredible. How do these open source vendors compete with the billions of platform investment from these giants?

They just end up with an interior product, so they end up with no market share.

Some bright lights are Ubuntu and duckduckgo, they're profitable and have their niches.

I think I'm suggesting they band together because that can only increase adoption amongst them all - if for example Firefox had duckduckgo as default, and Linux had Firefox as default, that would help those services quite a bit.

I guess though, that if Firefox is targeting mass adoption, they'll have more luck with Google as default. Which is sad.

Firefox here I come. Google’s update, to automatically take an action on my computer that I specifically don’t want, is an egregious misuse of technology. This is what Microsoft might have done in the early 2000’s for which they were rightfully vilified.

What happened to “do no evil”?

> What happened to “do no evil”?

It was considered "stupid" so they dropped it:


I thought that even if "evil" can't be well-defined, its general meaning probably encouraged a culture that tried to focus on ethics. When your leader says that trying not to be evil is "stupid", it has a different effect on the culture.


Don't be evil is in the last line of Google's Code of Conduct.

It was dropped, but they must have added it back after the publicity.


It was never fully dropped, just de-emphasized.

Silly: Thinking that Google wants to go do evil, but needs to drop a value statement first (to do otherwise, goes against the Code of Evildoers)

Having the CEO call the idea "stupid" and removing it from the code are a bit more than de-emphasis.

It was never removed from the code. You seem to think it was, and that the media attention made them add it back.

Try to find a snapshot of the code that does not include it (I can only find snapshots with it, so that won't suffice as proof).

About Eric Schmidt (who I won't defend) the full quote and context ("a casual jokey interview"):

> "The idea was that we don't quite know what evil is, but if we have a rule that says don't be evil, then employees can say, I think that's evil," Schmidt said. "Now, when I showed up, I thought this was the stupidest rule ever, because there's no book about evil except maybe, you know, the Bible or something." In the end, though, he believes it has worked, by giving employees a way to point out things they find unethical.

Subtle but it is there: The former CEO does not think that doing no evil is stupid, he thinks using a rule like that, without properly defining evil was stupid. Then he changed his mind.

Compare with the JSLint license that states: "the Software shall be used for Good, not Evil." You can find that rule stupid and vague, while acting like Mother Theresa.

> "As Google (and some others) interpret it, this additional requirement constitutes a vague use restriction and thus makes the license non-free. Chris [DiBona] explained that if I were to remove that line from the license and 'return to a proper open source license that we support,' then jsmin-php could stay on Google Code.

Once in a position of power the true colors show.

Money is the root of all evil. That's why they got rid of the mantra, as it meant 'Do no money'... And they need to please share holders.

I got rid of chrome when I noticed it hoggged my memory and CPU, and decided to try Firefox. Firefox is much more processor friendly for me at least.

>Money is the root of all evil.

The love of money is the root of all evil.

When you think of money as “intermediary token of value”, this makes a lot of sense. If you have a love of money, you will naturally tend towards whatever has the highest money-in-to-value-out ratio. With Google, however, the user is the product, so Google only want to put as much value in as to make sure the user stays. And yes, that does result in a good and polished browser, but only because it’s what keeps users from going to another one.

> The love of money is the root of all evil.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. (1 Tim 6:10 ESV)


I use Google Chrome very casually, mostly for development exactly for the very same privacy concerns as people have so I stopped using the Google Account integration for a long time explicitly because of these worries. I was extremely surprised to randomly see the browser logged into the account I use for YouTube.

As a user this is greatly worrying to me. I want my browser to not do anything like this without my explicit consent -- especially since I knowingly avoided doing it... I moved out as much of my digital identity from the Google Cloud as I could. I obviously can't escape needing to use YouTube, but everything can't be perfect.

I gotta be honest, I have some worries regarding Firefox, too. Too often they have pulled shady things and got into bad with terrible people. (the unwanted advertising stuff being auto-downloaded for Mr. Robot, the "fake news detector" thing, etc. etc.)

I find it extremely important to have good, independent open source alternatives to commercial web browsers and each step like this is a step towards one interest trying to take over the core of our internet experience. Pretty scary.

I’ve recently launched an experiment to get off of google. I can’t say I had any real reason other than curiosity. I have some privacy concerns but can’t say that was the main driver here. I think I just looked at my laptop, phone, etc and thought about how prevalent google code was in my life. It was my navigator, my file store, my calebdar, my email, my search engine and my browser. It knows everything about me.

That said I have started migrating from the ecosystem. I’m using safari for the web. Duck duck go for search, and Apple for maps. So far results are a mixed bag but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I’m hoping to get completely off of google in the next 3-6 months as long as viable alternatives that respect privacy exist.

I’m reading all this and was commenting to my wife we should stop using Chrome, then felt really foolish because I remembered we have Google Fiber. I’m not sure what to do about that. I’m also not sure if it’s something I should worry about or not, are there different rules on what Google can do as my ISP vs as my web browser?

I bet as your ISP they can do hell of a lot more.

I did this a while ago and it really ain't bad at all. Unfortunately to the lay person to search the Internet is "to google."

What bothered me with Chrome is that when you log in the sync functionality is checked for all boxes by default. Let's say you're in an internet cafe using their PC, you have to move very quickly if you want to prevent Chrome from pulling your synced passwords onto their local drive. Isn't it obvious design to disable those boxes by default?!

At least on iOS and macOS I see no reason not to use Safari, Edge on Windows is pretty good too. Power users will stop recommending Chrome to the average user after these changes and over time market share will hopefully decline.

> Edge on Windows is pretty good too.

Edge is not a bad browser at all, however if you are signed in Windows it will do same shit - sync everything automatically so I would avoid using it if you care about privacy.

On Android, and desktop for that matter, Brave is a nice chrome fork with all the anti-privacy garbage stripped and a built in ad blocker.

It’s tough to use Safari if you’re a web developer; Chrome tends to be better at rendering pages and in overall performance, as well as adopting features quicker than Apple.

Performance may have been an issue years ago, but nowadays safari is just as fast and consistent at rendering. I use safari as my default now, including for web dev, and have chrome ready in the rare case I need it.

I just recently visited a site (afterschool program) that silently failed for me using Mac Chrome where Safari worked fine. All other assets other than the login form loaded making me wonder what I was missing.

I almost missed a mandatory form that finally resolved by calling the number on the contact page. This is the sort of thing that used to be the other way around...

Web Developer here. I find Safari to be much faster than Chrome. I still use Chrome as my "work" browser due to the ecosystem of useful extensions (react, graphql, a11y, etc). But I close Chrome at 5pm, and when I need to do non-developer-y things, Safari is a much more pleasant experience (especially now that it has favicons).

These changes are really shocking. I’ve stopped using chrome a week ago for entirely different reasons and happy to hear one has managed to avoid sll this mess. I’m using 3 different gapos accounts, that would be some serious mess. Even if this change is reverted, I’m not going to switch back. By chrome, it was nice for a pretty long time.

    Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth
    downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs
    Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively,
    this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen
    to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome
    somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people
    eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off
    the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”.
Source: Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room Shows The Importance Of Privacy Defense In Depth


"Listening in" is inaccurate. "Ok Google" was opt-in only, and did not record users without consent. Chromium downloaded but didn't run the binary blob.

Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9724409

including Google's perspective: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9735795

Why download it in the first place?

A mistaken include in a build file, most likely.

I've removed all sorts of dumb stuff slowing down the build that was included by accident or unnecessarily on my project at work. Never attribute to malice ...

> A mistaken include in a build file, most likely.

Yea, "whoops we accidentally downloaded a surveillance device on your system!"... If that sort of negligence can happen, what else is the browser currently doing, or capable of doing in the future, "accidentally"?

Not to make light of the point you're making, but by far and large customers actively want this.

There's a large market opportunity right now for voice controlled systems. Controlling those systems with your voice means they have to be able to listen to you. Full stop.

While I think it's going to take a long time before we truly understand the repercussions of those systems (and I want to be clear, I say that not as an omen of fear and doom, but as a literal statement: We don't understand exactly what level of monitoring we're ok with or is appropriate as a society) I think complaining that google is acting in a solely nefarious way by attempting to incorporate voice control into the browser is disingenuous.

Windows (the literal glass ones) also allow people to see into your home. They let any random stranger on the street walk right up and view the things you own, as well as yourself and your family. But by far and large we've decided we like windows enough that the privacy loss is worth it.

You can shutter windows when you like

It was an intentional download so that Chromium users could use "Ok Google".

Even worse, though the comments I was replying to seem to indicate that you are wrong?

craftyguy was just speculating.

"Chromium does download hotword-x86-64.nexe on startup, but it has been carefully designed as an opt-in feature"


> Never attribute to malice ...

This principle is heuristical and as such can result in down-side when one doesn't actually resolve the uncertainty within the heuristic (read: guess) with detailed evidence.

The obvious downside here is that you can accumulate a bunch of risks which each independently satisfy the heuristic, and so don't seem like risks, but in aggregate can result in a swing towards the opposite of what it says.

Meaning, yeah, sure, stupid thing added to the codebase. But with the accumulation of all the poor decisions Google has made surrounding privacy, is Google really that fucking idiotic, or, what?

Can you say what you mean in plainer words? Are you saying that the combination of many such incidents likely isn't an accident, but intentional?

Yes, it's maybe intentional, and just using the rule "Never attribute to malice that which cane be attributed" as an indication that there isn't any malice is stupid because it's getting you to change your mind about the kind of thing going on without evidence.

It's like saying Occam's Razor always gives you the right analysis of how things are. No, it only gives you the best guess given that you've taken everything possible into account. But here it's worse, because it's not taking into account all of the other times Google has infringed a common-sense understanding of privacy.

Whether or not it's more likely that Google is intentionally crossing this line, rather than it's just merely possible that they're intentionally doing it, depends on other information. In this case because it's unlikely that Google is really that's stupid, because they're good engineers with strong QC practices, so it's more like that there is some kind of intention involved. Not to be "evil" but to deliberately do things that deny the social value of avoiding surveillance.

Why would I assume that malicious actions in the world are outnumbered by stupid ones?

I always have my sound input/mic levels set to zero in settings. They can't bypass that.

I think they could do that if they wanted, if you're entering your root password during the install.

I want to switch to Firefox, but the developer tools simply do not work at all. Every time I try to use the console on the site that I'm working on, the tab freezes and everything just stops working. (This immediately happens, not after a period of working and then bugging out) If any representative from Mozilla wants to reach out, I would be glad to help you fix your software because we need better competition in this space. (email is in my profile)

Current Firefox version: 63.0b8 OS: mac OS High Sierra (10.13.6 17G65)

You don't need developers to reach out to you, just file a bug report like a normal person.


Have reported there before and have gotten no attention to any issues previously posted. In my experience bugzilla has been a black hole and reaching out via public channels is more effective at influencing change in an organization. I understand that you may think this is uncouth but letting other people know publicly why their product isn't being used is effective.