Saturday, August 1, 2015

Safari vs. Chrome: Power Consumption

John Gruber:

This exemplifies what the “Safari Is the New IE” crowd doesn’t get — Apple’s priorities for Safari/WebKit are very different from Google’s for Chrome/Blink. Innovation and progress aren’t necessarily only about adding new features. 24 percent better battery life is huge.

Safari is not IE because it’s not stagnant. But the original post resonated with me because Safari is no longer bringing me the whole Web. I spend much of my day in FogBugz and Google Docs, and these sites work better in Chrome, or even Firefox, than in Safari. I’ve also had problems with Apple’s own discussion forums in Safari, and there are apparently issues with Apple’s developer site, as well.

I love Safari as an app. Neither Chrome nor Firefox has ever felt very Mac-like to me. Yet I’m increasingly using Chrome because Safari can’t get the job done. I don’t know whose fault it is that these sites don’t work with Safari, but to me as a user it doesn’t really matter. Improving power efficiency is great, but it would probably save even more battery life if Safari were compatible enough that I didn’t have to keep Chrome running.

I’m not writing this as a Web developer who wants to deploy a native app experience via HTML and JavaScript. I’m just a Mac user who prefers Safari and wants to be able to use it.

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Chrome is far more secure than Safari. Google is constantly issuing security updates for Chrome, while Apple lags far behind in that area. The web browser is the most vulnerable app on your machine, so this is important. Also, Apple has really dumbed down Safari over the years. They removed the cookies window, and they made the downloads window a farce. Safari may save power, but for power users Chrome is superior.

@Jeff Safari also removed the ability to see the full URL that you are at. (The preference doesn’t fully bring this back.) Unfortunately, Chrome is even less configurable and puts the downloads at the bottom of the main window.

The downloads "window" is not a window, just a popup, which is mildly annoying, but I find it has actually gotten better over the years. I like the ability to copy-paste a URL directly into it (I even found TextExpander works, so I have a shortcut 'f1url' for a URL I test often, and it works!). You can drag and drop a file directly from it, and do all kind of expected things for files. Yet it remains a clean and clear ui.

Chrome also has a full Downloads window in addition to the bottom bar (which can be closed). It's not perfect, to be sure.

@Jeff Is there a way to turn off the downloads bottom bar so that I don’t have to close it all the time?

@Michael: I don't think there's anything built-in to do it, but it should be possible to achieve this behavior with a plugin or with an AppleScript.

@Lukas Thanks. I wrote a script. Sounds like this has been a longstanding issue that Google doesn’t plan to do anything about.

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