What do we want from a browser? Well, the answer should be simple. We want to browse the interwebs, view websites, shop, and where specific applications like Gmail or Facebook are absent, use the browser for email or social networking.
Most browser users– Mac, Windows PC, Chromebook, iPhone and iPad, or even Android smartphones– don’t think about the most obvious requirement because, hey, a browser is free, right, and they’re universally easy to use for the basics. Browsing.
What I want in a browser is a list that most of us want– stability, speed, accurate page rendering, various and sundry features, perhaps options for extensions and add-ons, and, the option to prevent, reduce, or mitigate tracking, trackers, being tracked.
If there is a single negative use for the modern browser for Macs or other devices, it’s the ability for third parties to track browser users. What does such tracking do? First, it captures information about you and sends it off to third parties. That information is used to create a profile which stores data about you, your household, which websites you visit, who you communicate with on Facebook, which products you view on Amazon, and, combined with your internet service provider’s IP address and other information, helps to grow your online profile of information.
That’s information which you do not control.
Such tracking mechanisms are complex and intricate, but it all starts with your browser. Even Mac, iPhone, Windows PC, and Android applications have built-in trackers that gather information about you (see above times 20) which can be used to put relevant advertising in your face, determine your political allegiance (gerrymandering politicians use such tracking data to redraw their voting districts), and more.
As much as we may want a friendly and easy to use browser, or one that seems faster than others, or perhaps has more options and add-ons, what we should consider higher on the list is the ability to avoid or reduce tracking.
Early this week Apple’s WebKit team– the folks behind Safari– announced a new benchmark called Speedometer 2.0. Have your browser visit the link to see how fast it performs various functions. Safari on my iPhone was faster than Safari on my Mac, but my Mac version is crowded with plenty of add-ons. Speed is all well and good but more valuable to Mac and iPhone users might be a tracker tracker. Not just a list of cookies that inhabit your browser, but a growing list of all the trackers spawned by the websites you visit.
You can get some of that notion from Ghostery (run by the ad industry) and other tools, but the idea behind tracking the trackers is to show browser users how many such trackers are tracking us each day. The numbers are staggering.
And remember that NoodleMac is tracker free; no ad trackers, no trackers, not even a cookie.