Google is perhaps The internet company, with dozens of products and services revolving around the technology that has kept us connected for decades. For most people, the gateway to the internet is, in fact, another Google product, with Chrome making up the lion’s share of the browser market.
It is debatable that Google Chrome is the most used software globally, given the way it is used on almost every conceivable computing device. However, that doesn’t immediately mean that it’s the best way to experience the web, and there are also serious reasons why you should avoid using Chrome if you can afford it.
Performance And Stability
Just because it’s the most used doesn’t mean it’s the best. Various factors have contributed to Chrome’s success in the market. And while credit must be given to some features that have helped sell the browser to users, it is far from the most impressive when it comes to performance and stability. Some Chrome users may even grudgingly admit that they are forced to use the browser for this or that function, despite having had a lot of aches and headaches from browser performance.
The internet is full of anecdotes about Chrome’s insatiable hunger for RAM and battery. When people have become more dependent on laptops with relatively limited hardware resources, as well as the web for work, study, or entertainment, a voracious web browser is probably the last thing they need. The last thing they need is Chrome to crash because it ran out of memory or, worse, some extension bug.
Once upon a time, web browsers competed in the number of third-party add-ons, sometimes known as extensions, that they supported. The extension system allowed the browser to remain slim, at least compared to the giant that was Internet Explorer, leaving the door open to features that the developers of the browser had not foreseen or even did not intend.
This, of course, required the software to have hooks that extensions could connect with to implement such functionality, which sometimes includes the ability to change what users see on a web page or even touch files on a user’s computer. Unfortunately, extensions have also become a source of problems in the long run, putting the stability of the browser at risk as well as the safety of users. Complicating matters is how Google ran its Chrome Web Store, which was even more open than its Google Play Store for Android.
In exchange for a more open ecosystem, there was hardly any quality control, and many malware-laden extensions could escape the cracks, often disguised as extensions from reputable developers. Google tried to plug that big hole, but its strategy was a double-edged sword. It limited access to extensions to mitigate the adverse side effects of malicious attachments and removed the functionality needed for some wings. Unfortunately, that’s not even a done deal, and there are still some problematic add-ons that go beyond Google’s scrutiny.
Add-ons and extensions were supposed to make browsers simpler and lighter, but in the end, things didn’t always turn out that way. In addition to being resource-hungry software, Chrome is also complex, and its complexity bleeds into its configuration options. Like any Google product, Chrome has pages upon settings that the browser itself requires a mini search engine to search for the appropriate controls.
There are pros and cons to this “feature,” of course. On the one hand, it gives the user more control over how a browser behaves, allowing them to change almost every aspect of the experience. On the other hand, it’s all too easy to get lost in a sea of options, and it’s also just as easy to bury necessary privacy or security settings to discourage users from searching for them. There is, in fact, a search option, but that assumes you know what to look for in the first place.
Slow Development Of Features
Despite being considered “heavy,” Chrome is ironically slow to add new features, at least compared to something like Microsoft Edge or even Opera. Yes, it’s a new version of Chrome almost every month (although Google is now adjusting it), but that rate means that most of the changes are small in size and focus on fixes rather than significant new features.
This means that Chrome isn’t always up to date with the latest trends or user wishes, but it might be acceptable for some people. Given the browser’s infamy for resource usage, users might certainly prefer Google to focus on refinement rather than fluff. Extensions could add extra features, but how Google pulled the carpet out of those might have caused some disgruntled developers to move away from the browser entirely.
Chrome is one of the most popular gateways to the internet, where you can find most of Google’s profitable products and services. In other words, it’s pretty much Google’s service portal, and it’s becoming more and more evident that Google is configuring it to be. It also works the other way around, and some of Chrome’s best features can only be experienced if you’re already using other Google products. In recent months, there has been a growing number of features that integrate other Google products into Chrome.
While this may sound logical from a business perspective, it also raises regulatory red flags regarding anti competitive and monopolistic business practices. Of course, he runs the risk of favoring Google’s other products even when a web browser should be primarily indifferent to anything outside of it. Conversely, it also makes it harder to get away from those other Google products once you’re already knee-deep in immersion, thanks to Chrome.
Monitoring And Privacy
Google has never been positively associated with privacy, and the company is working hard to change that image. From a web perspective, it has heavily advertised its efforts to rid the world of malicious third-party tracking cookies – a commendable effort in itself. Other browser makers have also joined this push, but not everyone agrees with Google’s recent proposals to do this.
The company might be seen primarily as a search or internet business, but most of Google’s profits come from its advertising business. Internet advertising will always require some form of tracking. Google’s goal is to make the masses more favorable to such ads and activities by promoting “good ads’ ‘ and “privacy-friendly” tracking methods. However, not everyone accepts those promises, and Google remains ambiguous in the middle of that battle.
In the meantime, however, Chrome is being used as a testing ground for Google’s privacy efforts, especially new technologies designed to block malicious ads and trackers while promoting the good ones. However, it’s still in progress and has yet to pass regulatory and market scrutiny, especially considering some doubt it will work for user privacy.
False Sense Of Security
Even without those upcoming features like the controversial Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), Chrome has some measures in place designed to protect user privacy. Some of these sound like typical browser features, such as removing a site’s access to specific hardware or browsing incognito mode. Others may be specific to Chrome or implemented in Chrome before, such as blocking non-HTTPS sites or removing the FTP functionality.
However, there are times when these features may not work the way users thought they did, or they may have warnings that Google hasn’t exactly explained well. One of the most recent and popular cases is Chrome’s Incognito mode, which isn’t as anonymous as assumed. Only recently did Google clarify that safe browsing offered minimal protection after supporting its use for years.
Incognito mode hides your activity from anyone using the same device and browser or browser profile. It doesn’t completely hide your activities from websites that use other methods to track your presence. It also doesn’t permanently hide you from Google either, as Chrome will still send some data to Google’s servers for the usual telemetry purposes.
While Google can be commended for accepting the cause of banning malicious cookies and trackers from Chrome and the web in general, there have been doubts about the company’s ulterior motives. In particular, its compromise proposal to replace those cookies is questioned because they seem only to benefit Google, especially its advertising platform activity. And, of course, Chrome is being used as a vehicle to push it to the web.
The FLoC above, for example, is controversial because it puts Google and Chrome at the forefront. For instance, it would only work with Chrome, and advertisers would have to use Google’s platform to get vetted. Send a message that the only way to be safe on the web in this new world would be with Chrome and Google. Of course, that didn’t get along well with other browser makers and many privacy advocates and industry regulators.