Friday, October 5, 2018

Why Matthew Green Is Done With Chrome

Matthew Green (Hacker News):

In this setting, Chrome was a beautiful solution. Even if the browser never produced a scrap of revenue for Google, it served its purpose just by keeping the Internet open to Google’s other products. As a benefit, the Internet community would receive a terrific open source browser with the best development team money could buy. This might be kind of sad for Mozilla (who have paid a high price due to Chrome) but overall it would be a good thing for Internet standards.


A few weeks ago Google shipped an update to Chrome that fundamentally changes the sign-in experience. From now on, every time you log into a Google property (for example, Gmail), Chrome will automatically sign the browser into your Google account for you. It’ll do this without asking, or even explicitly notifying you.


Nobody on the Chrome development team can provide a clear rationale for why this change was necessary, and the explanations they’ve given don’t make any sense.

This change has enormous implications for user privacy and trust, and Google seems unable to grapple with this.

Chris Siebenmann:

In theory, I’m not affected by this behavior. I almost never log into any Google site in the first place and I’m basically always doing so in incognito mode, where this doesn’t (currently) apply. In practice, this has pushed me to deciding that this is a bridge too far and I no longer want to use Chrome if I can avoid it, and fortunately I can these days.

Paul Frazee:

There’s a reason people are reacting to Chrome like this. This isn’t an overreaction over one single event. It’s a delayed reaction to a pattern of bad behavior.

It’s contextualized by the very messed-up power dynamic between Google and the open Web.

Matthew Green (Hacker News):

The tech backlash even caused Google to back down, sort of. It announced a forthcoming update last Wednesday: Chrome’s auto-sign-in feature will still be the default behavior of Chrome. But you’ll be able to turn it off through an optional switch buried in Chrome’s settings.

This pattern of behavior by tech companies is so routine that we take it for granted. Let’s call it “pulling a Facebook” in honor of the many times that Facebook has “accidentally” relaxed the privacy settings for user profile data, and then—following a bout of bad press coverage—apologized and quietly reversed course. A key feature of these episodes is that management rarely takes the blame: It’s usually laid at the feet of some anonymous engineer moving fast and breaking things.

Update (2018-10-18): Renaud Lienhart:

WTH: Chrome is now forcing you to “Hold ⌘Q to quit”, breaking one of the most sacrosanct macOS convention.

It’s not as though it will forget the open tabs when you quit.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

I kinda always just assumed that this was how it already worked. Of all the crappy things Google has done to the web, this seems pretty benign.

[…] this weekend I read a story of some more […]

I'm trying to de-Google my life and ran into an unbelievable stumbling block when switching away from Gmail (which I had previously forwarded all of my email to) to my email hosted server (IMAP) — is there really NO WAY to filter email on iOS?!? I have my own email address (not Gmail or I can filter mail on my Mac... but not on my iPhone? I have searched and searched and searched and it seems like the two most-recommended email apps on iPhone (Mail and Outlook) give you no way to filter mail besides some BS built-in filters like "Unread" or "Has Attachments". I am in total disbelief. Why would Apple give you a way to filter email on your Mac, but then not have these filters apply to the same email on the Mail app on your iPhone? That makes no sense whatsoever.

IMO the better solution here is server side filtering.

I always assumed that the iPhone lacked local filters initially because of battery life/performance/memory limitations. Not sure that that would be an issue with modern devices, but at the same time, nowadays it seems natural for filtering to happen on the email server rather than the client. Then there's no worries about the vagaries of when filters are applied if different devices sync at different times.

Also, it avoids spending bandwidth downloading all email, then pushing it back to the server when you move each piece to different folders.

I definitely miss my smart mailboxes on iOS. I suspect I'd use mail more on iOS if they worked. The solution ends up being IMAP on the Map and filtering by rules moving things into a folder. That's truly not ideal though.

Look folks, if you miss Chrome so much then you should try out the Brave *beta*. It’s basically built on Chromium, the version of Chrome that has all the Google crapola stripped out.

The stable version of Brave is slow as molasses on my Mac Mini, but the *beta* is not. Maybe the last thing you will Google is “Brave beta“.

I’m really impressed with Brave on both iOS and macOS.

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