For years now, I’ve gone through a regular ritual of checking out the latest build of each major internet browser every few months.
That cycle is finally over.
How Did I Get Stuck?
Most of the people I know who love Chrome use a ton of extensions.
I don’t use any.
However, I’ve always loved Chrome’s generally fast performance and cross-platform syncing features. Once I started using an Android phone, that cross-compatibility became even more important.
But none of it ever felt totally right.
Chrome is a notorious battery hog on laptops, even in its modern “more efficient” incarnations. And everyone goes on and on about how much memory it uses up…although for my particular use cases, this wasn’t usually a bad thing.
I’m not really an internet “power user.” I usually have no more than five or six tabs open at once, and I’m almost always focused on one specific tab at a time.
I know, that makes me lame.
But I just wanted something fast that rendered all of my favorite pages quickly. And for years, Chrome has been the default. And that never sat quite right with me, for whatever reason. Maybe it was the data mining going on behind the scenes. Maybe it was the feeling of stagnation in what was once a thriving “browser-wars” ecosystem. Or maybe I just like new things.
I kept looking for something better. Now it’s here.
And no, dude who is about to click that reply button and go all “Well actually” on me, Mozilla did not pay me to write this.
Alternatively, they paid me exactly as much as Google paid you to defend them.
Enter Firefox Quantum
I found out about Firefox Quantum through a Facebook ad, of all things!
For an article written by a third-party tech web site about the new browser!
My dad and one friend of mine swear by Firefox. But they’re the only ones I know who do. I really liked the 1.0 version of the browser back in the day because it felt like the true successor to Netscape.
Yeah, I was a Netscape guy.
But I’d ignored the browser for quite some time now. It always felt a little bit slow. A little bit janky. A little bit too focused on extensions that, again, I never use.
That’s all different now.
Firefox Quantum is fast! Really really fast! It’s hilariously stupidly fast in a way that feels like Chrome…but a tiny bit faster.
I don’t know how the folks over at Mozilla did this, but it’s clear they’re very talented and that optimization and UX were their number-one priorities.
Speaking of UX…
The interface for Firefox Quantum is a great best-of-both-worlds situation. It’s simplistic and clean, yet still packed with a comical number of functions… that I’ll never use.
The smart page/ “Pocket” that loads when I open a new tab has actually learned my browsing habits very well, and is already showing me relevant content to my interests after just a few days of use.
The bookmarking functionality is probably over-developed, allowing me an absurd number of different places to stash links.
The experience is very clearly modeled after Chrome, but it’s all slightly cleaner and more modern-feeling.
Nothing is Broken!
I always begin a test of any new browser build by visiting a number of web sites I use on a regular basis. The big social networks, Youtube, other sites owned by Google, some message boards I like, etc.
On previous versions of Firefox, one or more of those places would feel slow or render slightly broken in some way.
In Firefox? They all worked. That was already enough for me to know that I was going to switch.
Search Provider Irony
Firefox’s default search provider used to be Yahoo. That was a high-profile deal when they signed it back in the day.
Yahoo has had a challenging few years since then.
Firefox’s new default?
Well, it’s Google. Of course.
So even though I’ve escaped Chrome, I haven’t totally escaped Google. I guess that was probably impossible. And I never really intended to stop using their online email, document, or video services.
It is weird though, to see Mozilla/Firefox, the last browser champions of security and privacy, team up with the company that wants to be taking all of our data all of the time.
Was this just an admission of the inevitable? That everyone is already opted into the Google ecosystem anyway, so why fight it? Or was this some kind of devil’s bargain that became the only way to get funding for this amazing new browser?
We’ll probably never know.
I have no doubts about the safety and security and privacy of Firefox. Mozilla has always been exceptional in that regard. But I have no doubt that while I’m in Google’s ecosystem, which is now just as easy to pop into in Firefox as in any other browser, that they’ll happily take all my data as before.
I love Firefox Quantum.
I had resigned myself to being stuck with Chrome forever. Now I only have to settle with being stuck in Google’s ecosystem. Which is still better somehow.
I hope that this new version of Firefox lights a fire under the Chrome team and gets them to overhaul their entire experience, rather than just lumbering along thanks to their huge market share. I know that’s how it always goes for the company at the top; you don’t want to make too many big changes lest you risk upsetting the apple cart, right?
Well Mozilla just tipped the cart over.