Browser Watch, April 2017

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April 25, 2017
Browser Watch, April 2017.
Every month, we scour the Internet far and wide to bring web designers the latest and most relevant news stories about browsers. Here’s another edition of Browser Watch, running down everything from the interesting to the surprising in the world of browsers and everything related to it.

Google Chrome Is The Most Hacker-Proof Browser Available

In addition to speed and performance, Google Chrome has also developed a reputation for security. That’s now being confirmed after the 10th edition of Pwn2Own, which is a computer-hacking contest held annually. The aim of this contest is for hackers to aggressively attack hardware and software to discover and exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities. Chrome came out as the most impregnable—only being attacked once, but not within the allotted time limit. The worst performing browser? Microsoft’s Edge browser, which was successfully attacked five times.

Chrome 57 Marks Beginning of More Efficient Power Usage

In another boon for Chrome, its latest update will finally take it easier on your computer’s CPU. According to BGR, Chrome 57 will now extend battery life by minimizing the power impact from factors that users can’t even see. This is a reference to Chrome’s background tabs. Users are familiar with the browser’s tendency to eat up resources when they have many tabs open in the background. Now, thanks to 57’s individual background tab throttling feature, there’ll be 25% fewer busy tabs that are going to be running the background.

Google and Symantec May Go to War

Everyone has probably seen security-software company Symantec’s certifications on various websites, which many users take as the gospel truth of a site’s security. However, Google has begun taking Symantec to task for its alleged failure to properly investigate whether a domain is safe for browsing before it issues its web certificates of security. According to Android Headlines, Google might soon penalize Symantec by drastically reducing the level of trust that its Chrome browser attributes by default to Symantec certificates.

Safari Technology Preview 27 Release Features New Reload Page

Apple released the 27th Safari Technology Preview update, the highlight of which is a new Reload Page From Origin feature, according to MacRumors. This option allows users to reload a page without having to rely on cached resources. Another big browser change is the elimination of the Disable Caches option from the browser’s Development menu. Rounding out the update is a whole series of fixes and improvements to Web API, JavaScript, Web Inspector, CSS, WebCrypto, Accessibility and Rendering. Safari Technology Preview is Apple’s experimental browser that tests new features that might one day make it into Safari’s future release updates.

Apple Shows off Demos of its Proposed WebGPU Browser Engine

Earlier in the year, Apple talked about a new GPU that would strive toward more powerful Internet graphics. Now, Apple has released a few demos to show developers what its new standard can do, according to 9 to 5 Mac. Developers have the opportunity to play around with Apple’s new WebGPU demos by going to Apple’s WebKit webpage. Once there, they’ll have the chance to see four new demos in total, but they’ll have to use Safari Technology Preview, as well as activate WebGPU from the Developer menu.

New Firefox User Interface Called Photon in the Works

For Firefox’s upcoming 57 release, there’s a new user interface that the company’s working on. Named Photon, its mockup designs feature rectangular tabs that will take the place of the current round ones. But that’s not all. Users can also expect a new tab page and a new and centered address bar. Overall, this is the first major overhaul of Firefox’s UI in a number of years, since 2014, to be exact.

Firefox 52 Adds a Whole Roster of New Features

Recently, Firefox debuted Firefox 52, and it was a mega update that included a huge collection of new additions, according to TechSpot. The biggest change in the pack is WebAssembly, which allows almost native performance in apps and games, something that should be welcome for gamers on any browser. Another big improvement is the automatic identification and activation of public, Wi-Fi login services at airports and hotels. Finally, Netscape Plugin API plugins have been disabled while security also gets a big boost with a warning to users who are on webpages that are not using HTTPS during sign-in.

Downloads of Opera More Than Double After Congressional Internet Privacy Vote, Allegedly

When the House of Representatives joined the Senate to reverse privacy rules the Federal Communications Commission passed last year (but hadn’t yet taken effect), the Opera browser seems to have been the biggest winner. The company reported that, in the immediate aftermath of the vote, new U.S. users of the VPN-equipped browser more than doubled as a reflex action to privacy fears, according to Computerworld. However, statistically, third-party metrics, such as those provided by analytics company StatCounter, do not verify Opera’s claim of more users flocking to its browser.

Microsoft Edge Actually Records an Uptick in its Users

In something of a surprise, Microsoft Edge, the company’s latest browser, saw a bit of an uptick in its user share. After the browser’s user numbers fell to humiliating lows last year, the browser rebounded slightly with 0.06% more users this year, according to figures provided by NetMarketShare, a statistics company. As a result, currently 5.61% of all browser users depend on Edge to access the Internet. Still, this is far cry from the high of 16% of all worldwide browser activity Edge accounted for when Windows 10 recently rolled out since the browser was the default in that release. There you have it! Now you know all you need to know about the latest and most important developments in browser news over the past month. Join us again next month for another roundup of the most relevant browser stories for designers and developers alike.

Marc Schenker

Marc’s a copywriter who covers design news for Web Designer Depot. Find out more about him at

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