Are you stuck in a browser rut? Try these six alternatives


  • TECH
  • Sunday, 17 Sep 2017

Alternatives to Internet Explorer and Safari include Vivaldi, Firefox, Chrome and Opera. (File photo, 02/08/2017. Please credit: Andrea Warnecke / dpa.) Photo: Andrea Warnecke/dpa-tmn/dpa

People with Windows computers usually use Internet Explorer or Edge, while Mac owners tend to use Safari. But there are plenty of alternatives to Microsoft and Apple’s browsers. Some offer better privacy, others chic design and the ability to personalise. Here’s a look at six of them.

Chrome

Google’s browser has overtaken Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in the popularity stakes, and is now the browser of choice for around a third of people.

“Chrome is so popular because it works on all common platforms,” says Christian Van de Sand from German consumer organisation Stiftung Warentest.

Users who are logged into their Google accounts can synchronise their bookmarks and open tabs across various devices and operating systems.

“When Chrome came out, it created a sensation because it was so minimalistic,” says Joerg Geiger from Chip magazine. Initial criticisms about the browser’s capturing of user data have more or less died away. “Basically, all browsers try to know as much about their users as possible,” Geiger says.

Firefox

Once the most used alternative to Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s browser has now fallen behind Chrome. The browser is currently undergoing a technical rebuild aimed at recovering market share, Geiger says.

Like Chrome, Firefox’s latest version supports more of the latest web standards than Edge or Safari, says Kim Rixecker from t3n magazine. The ability to sync across multiple devices is also available when users create a Mozilla account.

“In addition, Firefox is the only one of the four large browsers that is fully open source,” Rixecker says. This means that anyone can look at the code.

Opera

“Opera is a veteran browser, but still innovative,” Geiger says. For example, WhatsApp and Messenger chats can now be carried out within the browser.

Opera also has a built-in VPN function so that anyone surfing on a WiFi network can send their data through an encrypted VPN tunnel. For this reason, “we recommend it as a holiday browser,” Geiger says.

Vivaldi

A new browser from a former Opera developer, Vivaldi can be adapted extensively to user requirements. “You can have the tabs on the top or the left, or choose colours,” Geiger says. Above all, things like bookmarks and the display of search engine results can be customised in a way that is both practical and attractive.

However, one problem with small alternative browsers like this is that they usually rely on the technology of big competitors like Chrome and so are generally later with updates. This can lead to security holes not being plugged, especially if updates are not automatically installed.

Cliqz

Based on Firefox and developed in Germany, this is a browser for data-sensitive users, Van de Sand says. It has features built in which users would have to install separately in other browsers - an anti-tracking function, for example.

And users can see which cookies the browser is currently blocking. However, the browser doesn’t support extensions and add-ons, something which some users might find annoying.

Bitbox

This is a browser geared towards security and was developed by, among others, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

“It starts in its own virtual machine on the computer,” explains Van de Sand. This means that it’s decoupled from the computer’s operating system and so should be more resistant to malware – making it more secure for things like online banking.

The downside is that browsing speed suffers. For that reason, it’s not really suitable for day-to-day surfing, Van de Sand says. — dpa

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