“A web browser is an interface that helps a computer user gain access to all the content that is on the Internet and the hard disk of the computer. It can view images, text documents, audio and video files, games, etc. More than one web browser can also be installed on a single computer. The user can navigate through files, folders and websites with the help of a browser,” NIOS.
Since the internet was born, Browsers have been vital to its success. So much so that the first browser ever created was aptly titled “WorldWideWeb” because it was the only mode by which you could access the internet. Today there are many options available to use for access, but with them all in a constant rotation of updates, it’s nearly impossible to decide which to use.
In an analysis of global browser usage completed between January 2016 and January 2017, Stat Counter reported that 51.76% of users accessed the web through Google Chrome. The other 48.24% of usage was spread across Safari, Firefox, UC Browser, Internet Explorer, Opera, Android, Samsung, Edge, and others. This data begs the question, why is any one browser more popular than another?
What Do We Want from Our Browsers?
A list of some of the most searched questions concerning browsers shows just how varied the demand is:
- “What browser uses least ram?”
- “Which browser is best for battery life?”
- “Which browser is best for Mac?”
- “What browser is fastest?”
- “Which browser is safest?”
What Do Our Browsers Give Us?
“[Your web browser is] a container for not just webpages, but truly active, interactive apps, even video conferencing and gaming. It’s your email reader, your music and video player, and potentially even your videoconferencing window,” PC Mag.
As our devices and media have advanced, our browsers have had to follow suit. Mozilla Firefox claims to be the best browser for online gaming. Others are optimized for streaming, some for conserving data usage, some for music production.
Many developers have equipped their browsers with ad blockers to combat web tracking. This trend came in response to the overwhelming number of online advertisers who track consumers’ web history. This data is used by advertisers to better cater ads to the interests of consumers. But Consumer Reports has reported that the majority of American internet consumers are not comfortable with their web usage being tracked. Because of the newer privacy features on many browsers, those who don’t want to be tracked can feel secure while on the web.
Who is Using Which Browser?
Many factors impact the browsers we are able to use at any given time. For instance, Internet Explorer is only compatible with Windows devices, while Safari is available exclusively for Mac users. In the Stat Counter report, Safari claimed 14.54% of internet usage, while Internet Explorer only claimed 4.77%. These statistics could prove that Safari is a better browser than Internet Explorer. Or they could instead reveal certain truths concerning the methods in which we access our internet.
Windows claims over half of the operating market of desktops, and so it would make sense that their browser is more popular than Mac’s. However, when you factor in mobile devices, you have to consider that all Mac’s utilize the Safari browser. Mac has a stronghold on the mobile device market with their tablets and smart phones. Safari can also be projected from mobile devices onto smart TVs. Still, Internet Explorer was planned to be replaced by Microsoft Edge as Window’s default browser, but Edge only claimed less than 2% of the charted web usage.
Is Any Browser Really Better than Another?
Accessibility and usability are arguably the most valuable features a browser can offer. The most commonly used browsers are free to the public, as they’ve been for the last ten years of the Internet’s life. However, the browsers that seem to lose popularity are those that are accessible to only certain software systems, such as Internet Explorer and its counterpart Microsoft Edge. Overcrowded toolbars also affect a browser’s usability, which can reflect poorly on their usage.
Although every browser has its own strengths and weaknesses, it’s clear that some are better than others. Today, Google Chrome is ranked as the best web browser on the market, and the statistics we’ve discussed here show that consumers agree. Yet, Chrome is one of the only browsers available that is not equipped with ad blockers designed to stop web tracking.
You should base the compatibility of browsers on you and your interests. If you like online gaming, then Mozilla Firefox may be your best choice. For those who have a Mac, Safari is likely theirs. If you like a secure network, then finding a browser with built in ad blockers will be an important step. The truth is that the best way to navigate the overpopulated world of browsers is to do your research, consider your own interests and accessibility factors, and then pick your favorite.
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