The Firefox Experiment
Recently, I tried to switch my primary browser from Chrome to Firefox. I noticed that Chrome was slowing down and thought now was the perfect time to switch.
Several years ago, I switched from Safari to Chrome for the same reason. I was a loyal Safari user, but when Safari slowed to a crawl—I knew it was time to move on.
The switch from Safari to Chrome went smoothly. I thought I would never be able to give up Safari reader or the neat share buttons, but I did. In exchange, Chrome offered user accounts that could be used to separate my browsing identities. This proved useful not only for separating home and work accounts, but also for all the organizational accounts I administer.
The problem with switching from Chrome to Firefox is that I have become dependent on these separate profiles. Firefox offers close integration with Pocket, a sophisticated reading list and “Firefox Hello,” an easy to use video chat feature, but these features are not enough to forgive the inability to separate browsing identities. Within three days of switching, I switched back to Chrome.
I hope to switch to Firefox on all devices in the future, but for now it looks like I’m stuck with using Chrome and Safari simultaneously. I use Chrome exclusively on my computers (Mac, Linux and Windows) and Safari for my iOS devices. This experience is fragmented, but I can’t escape from the need to use multiple browser profiles and Apple doesn’t let me truly switch my default browser on iOS. Furthermore, Safari is the only adblocking, mainstream browser available (excluding Dolphin and variants of ad blocker browsers) on iOS.
The lesson learned from this experience is that there are some features that keep us locked in an ecosystem. For me it’s Chrome’s browsing profiles and Safari’s Adblock plugins on iOS. If I didn’t have so many online identities—switching to Firefox for Pocket or Firefox Hello might have been more tempting.