Apple, Google, and Microsoft rarely cooperate to make your browser more usable

Some time ago, Microsoft announced the abandonment of the news of IE browser support, which awakened the memory of many friends, including me. Thanks to its help, I saw the wonderful Internet world from a not-so-clear screen for the first time.

But with the popularization of smart phones, apps occupy more and more user time, and the browser open rate is also decreasing. Even if the IE browser is the ultimate winner of the first browser war, it’s time to say goodbye. .

In the face of powerful apps, the companies that now occupy the largest share of the browser market, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla Firefox want to change this status quo and enhance the browsing experience and competitiveness through unified browser extensions.

Browser Extension Alliance is here

As we are familiar with, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Edge, and Mozilla Firefox have the highest share of browsers on the market, but the previous browser extension ecosystems are still "Hundreds of states", some are good and some are so-so.

With the help of the World Wide Web Consortium W3C, these large companies have jointly announced a new joint strategy to build a unified browser extension alliance, and use the forum as the basis to provide relevant information for extension developers or organizations. , To accelerate the unification and improvement of the browser plug-in system.

For ordinary consumers, most of the most familiar plug-ins may come from Chrome. It has the largest browser market share and has built a browser plug-in store, the Chrome Store. People can download it in the store or install it directly using the plug-in package.

The Browser Unity Alliance formulates corresponding standards to speed up other browsers to support extensions of the same standard. It also enables users of Safari, Edge, and Mozilla Firefox to enjoy the same level and richness of plugins as Chrome as soon as possible.

In particular, Microsoft and Apple are latecomers in terms of browser plug-ins. Although both have claimed to support Chrome kernel plug-ins, they cannot be used at the same level as Chrome.

In the case of Safari, Mac supported downloading plug-ins from the App Store last year, but until now the number of browser plug-ins in the App Store is still not too much. The efficiency of application display and distribution is still a long way from Chrome, which is required in the Mac App Store. Go to the corresponding category to find the plug-in or search for it, the entry is relatively deep.

▲The well-known browser plug-in Tampermonkey Oil Monkey Safari version has been launched on the Mac App Store

On the one hand, many need to wait for Apple’s review. On the other hand, the ecological construction is indeed slower than Chrome. The unified development standard made by the Unified Alliance allows developers to adapt better and faster, and accelerate the plug-ins in Safari. Quantity and type richness.

At the same time, for plug-in developers, the unified browser alliance has also made the cake bigger on another level. Chrome’s market share is very high, but the users it can affect are always limited. Expanded through the unified browser , The user pool available to developers has grown tremendously.

This will also encourage more developers to enter this ecological production of software, and form a positive cycle of profit from this. After all, the value-added business model based on the Chrome plug-in store has run through. In addition to the software that directly obtains revenue through payment, through the acquisition of a large number of There are also many software that indirectly benefit users.

For example, the well-known web ad blocking plug-in Adblock Plus, which claims to have 100 million users, as long as the manufacturer can create corresponding advertisements in accordance with the standards, they can enter the whitelist of Adblock Plus by paying, and rely on this business model Adblock Plus to continue to operate. right now.

For software with subscription-based payment such as tick lists, supporting browser plug-ins is also an important way for them to acquire users and even convert them into paying users.

In addition, most of the browser plug-ins we talk about are based on desktop-level computer products. At the recent WWDC developer conference, Apple announced that it will bring plug-ins to iOS and iPadOS. Adblock Plus is used in Safari on iPad.

Of course, the current experience is still relatively rough. I also experienced it the first time after the iOS 15 beta system was released. I found that the number of plug-ins is still relatively small, and there are many users in the software comment area about blocking ads. The above is invalid.

This can only be expected for developers to further optimize and adapt in the future, but Apple’s ecological appeal has always been good. In addition, the iOS user’s payment intention has been generally recognized by the market, and developers are likely to support or even Yu may further feed back on the desktop, increasing the number and richness of plug-ins, just as the Mac runs iOS software.

While various manufacturers are integrating their products and emphasizing product cross-platform experience, browsers are one of the most commonly used software. Under the influence of the expansion of the unified alliance, the future experience will become more and more unified.

The web experience could have been better

Of course, the plan has just been announced, and the specifics still depend on the actual implementation. After all, since the creation of the World Wide Web, the web experience has not developed by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, and even reversed in some aspects.

The most common is content blocking. On the one hand, it is a commercial choice among large companies. For example, it is basically impossible to search Taobao products through the search engine Baidu. For Taobao, this is because you don’t want to become a search engine’s traffic to marry others. clothes.

If this is a business choice, then the current common webpage content display is not complete, forced to jump to the App is a bit annoying, including Toutiao, Zhihu, etc. can not be fully read on the web side, you need to jump to the App, although it is to attract users Download the App, but the actual experience is as bad as "pop-up ads".

Earlier, Baidu also issued new regulations requiring that the main content of pages distributed through search in Baidu App should not be folded before being fully displayed, which means that "jumping to App viewing" is prohibited, but the actual effect is average, even Baidu launched itself. The content of the information service Baijiahao still clearly guides users to download the App.

▲ Reading the content of Baijiahao will still pop up the app to watch the notification

Jumping to App viewing is one of the main ways for information software to retain users, and this trend is getting hotter and hotter. With the popularization of smartphones and apps, Internet content is divided in various apps, becoming islands after another. This also makes daily switching between different apps our daily routine.

Since we all want to lead to the App, can the web page support an App? The answer is yes, and Apple, who created the App Store, turned out to be a supporter of this model.

Let us first set the time back to 2007. After Apple launched the iPhone, Jobs originally hoped to use the HTM5-based web application as the standard iPhone application. No software development kit is required. The application will rely on the Safari browser to integrate into In the device.

Everyone may be familiar with the later things. In the end, Apple did not choose this model and changed to the App Store. Various apps broke out, and Apple also gained a lot of commercial revenue by virtue of the App Store's commission sharing.

But web applications did not stop there. In 2015, designer Frances Berriman and Chrome engineer Alex Russell coined the term PWA (Progressive Web Application), which is a web application under a new generation of technology.

The webpage can also realize the responsive interaction like the App, which can be displayed directly on the system desktop. More importantly, it does not need to be downloaded and installed. At the same time, it is more flexible for screens of different sizes, can be better expanded, and is easier to develop.

This has also allowed many companies to join in its support. Google is one of the biggest supporters. It not only vigorously develops related technologies, but also provides distribution in Google Play. In addition, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. have joined the software store. Distribution support.

Although PWA does not need to be distributed with the help of app stores, they have a huge amount of traffic as a user concentration, helping PWA applications to acquire users.

Companies such as YouTube, Starbucks, Uber, and Trivago have all released corresponding applications. After Starbucks released PWA, web traffic has doubled.

▲ The PWA version of YouTube has been supported on Windows. Picture from: Windows central

Unfortunately, Apple does not support the distribution of PWA applications in the App Store. The original App Store as a controlled channel has brought a lot of profits to it. Why choose a more open but uncontrolled PWA application?

Whether it is forced to jump to App viewing or not to support PWA applications, they are all choices driven by business models, although they do cause a bad experience at some levels.

As the original carrier of the Internet, web pages and browsers were originally able to bring the most comprehensive Internet content experience, allowing people to freely access all content in one place. I hope that in the future, cooperation such as the Browser Alliance will increase. .

The picture is from CNET

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