Firefox: A browser stuck in time
Mozilla should focus on improving their offerings instead of blaming competitors for Mozilla’s lack of innovation.
Before I start, I just wanted to say that I love Firefox & Mozilla. It used to be my preferred browser, and I kid you not, I used to talk about it so much, my family and friends in school got annoyed. I respect Mozilla and everyone behind it, this article is purely an opinion piece.
In 2021, Firefox has less than 4% market share according to Stats Counter 🔗. This is mostly contributed to the dominant browser that is Chrome and the branding Chrome has with Google. But I feel like this isn’t the only reason Chrome overtook Firefox in its market share.
Google Chrome from the get-go was about improving the browser and web experience. If you read about the release of Chrome with the comic they released advertising Chrome, it goes on about how Google wanted to add value for users & wanted to drive innovation in the web and browser market.
Chrome throughout the years has released many quality-of-life updates that improve your browser experience. It was one of the first browsers to include syncing through an account (not a cryptic key), a translation feature, PWA support, a task manager, and in general, updates over time that you don’t even think about.
That’s not to say that it hasn’t released redundant, or downright stupid updates like when they added Google Now with a bell icon in your system tray, or when they forced users to sign into Chrome if they sign into a Google website. But that isn’t the point. Chrome has constantly been updated, improved, and added new useful features whereas Firefox hasn’t.
Here are some things Firefox users have asked for years that Mozilla has either ignored or won’t update/implement.
Rubber-banding, also known as elastic scrolling, is a quality-of-life update that lets a user know visually that they have reached the end or top of a webpage. Apple made a big deal with the iPhone about this and engineers at Apple and it has mostly been adopted by most mobile devices and even Microsoft and Google (on iOS at least, Google’s apps on Android don’t do this sadly). Mozilla has refused to add this feature for over six years. (Link to Bugzilla 🔗)
Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge & Safari all can translate webpages on every platform they run on. They all do it in-line meaning they replace the language you’re reading (let’s say, Korean, to English) without reloading the webpage or redirecting you to a whole other website. Mozilla even killed an extension 🔗 that did this because the same way it did this, is the same way some malware attacks browsers and webpages users are using. This feature is what keeps many using these browsers. There have been many posts on Bugzilla for years, asking Mozilla to add this feature to Firefox and Mozilla either closes these requests, or deny or push them off. It should be noted that Mozilla since 2018 has been working on bringing a translation feature to Firefox, but that was 3 years ago. Mozilla recently showed a clip of Project Bergomant off running in Firefox, but right now, only a few at Mozilla and a few European universities have access to this.
PWA’s, also known as Progressive Web Apps, are websites that once added to a home screen, taskbar, or dock, act as if they were a native app. If you have used Chrome or Edge, you’ve been asked if you’d like to install an “app” like Twitter or Instagram to your system. This allows you to add an icon to that allows direct access to that website.
Many people love them because it allows them to add streaming services like Prime Video, Apple TV+ and Hulu to their systems without installing extra software that require space or installing some malicious software that could brick a device. This feature is necessary when helping your tech incompetent family.
Firefox was working on it, but in January of 2021, decided to cancel development on the feature which many on Reddit and even news organizations were confused and angry about. Mozilla’s core values were always about improving the web and making the web more open and accessible to anyone, and PWAs are exactly that.
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