Dear Safari, 4 Things I Hate About You

Dear Safari, 4 Things I Hate About You image

Dear Safari, I know we’ve been together for a long time, but I’m starting to have second thoughts.

Over 20 years ago, when we started our relationship, it was so exciting. You were young, you were fast, you showed me a world where I wouldn’t be reliant on Microsoft Internet Explorer to browse the web.

But something has changed.

They say time heals all, but in our case I’ve started to think of looking elsewhere. Heck, it’s not that I don’t still see your strengths, it’s just that there’s some niggling issues which have got in the way of our relationship. Yes, I’m dedicated to trying. The fact that I’ve based my whole company, if not my whole livelihood, on you, should be enough to prove my dedication.

But you’ve let yourself go. Is it because I didn’t raise these issues earlier? Should I have said something when I had the chance? Has my lack of communication led you to believe that everything’s ok?

Well, it’s not Safari. Everything is not ok.

It’s time you changed. It’s time you improved. Here’s 4 things I hate about you, Safari.

I write these in the hope that it inspires change in you. Be that snappy web browser that I fell in love with.

Do it for yourself, and do it for the 2 billion users, who want to use you – not just because you’re the default, but because you’re the best you can be.

Everyone knows about your tawdry Google relationship

You thought you were being discrete. You thought that we would never question why you’re leaking all of our secrets to that tawdry rich suitor of yours.

Our web browsing history. Our searches. Our mistyped web addresses. Everything. For years. How could you?

I know you don’t believe what they were saying to you.

Don’t be evil

“We just want to organise the world’s information”

How convenient. Well, it’s too late and it has gone on for too long.

It’s time for you to break up with Google. I don’t care if you’re paid $20 billion a year for this indiscretion. Stop it now. You can earn our trust back, but only by stopping this relationship now and putting our privacy first.

You say that “privacy is a human right”. You say that it’s “one of our core values”.

Now prove it.

You’re not as fast as you used to be

Yes, we’ve all let ourselves go. I know as much as anyone.

I used to develop software in a non-type checked, manually memory-managed language. When you’re young, you tend to be able to do those type of things.

When you were younger you were indisputably the fastest. You loaded pages quicker than your competition. And you did it all while using less memory. And you saved me battery life. It was thrilling.

Both on benchmarks and in real world tasks your speed and performance was undisputed. But times change. While you were making huge strides on improving your standards compliance, other browsers have snuck up from behind. They’ve started to match your performance.

It’s not all speeds and feeds. User interface and native platform integration matter too.

But, I’m questioning my dedication. If you’re not the fastest, on your own operating system, hardware and silicon for goodness sake, what’s going on?

Re-dedicate yourself to being the world’s fastest browser. It’s why we loved you in the first place and it’s not too late to reclaim the speed crown.

You say you support web extensions, but do you really?

It was surprising when you decided to fully support standard web extensions. A good surprise. Adopting a cross-platform approach to extensions was a great decision that brought about a lot of possibilities.

I loved it enough to port our legacy app extension to the new model. It enabled us to support features such as YouTube ad blocking and Performance Insights in a consistent manner on all our supported platforms.

The problem is, you say you support web extensions, but your support is rather buggy. I know I may be being nit-picky but this is not just a nag.

Your web extension bugs are impacting on our ability to easily block YouTube ads. Perhaps intentionally? I’m not the only one who has noticed.

During the migration process, we hit multiple bugs that could have been found with some simple unit tests. You are testing right? I can’t believe that you would spend all that effort on web extension support and then not fully test your implementation. That can’t be right?

Tell me I’m dreaming, but the fact that run_at document_start didn’t work correctly (now possibly fixed?), that requesting browser permissions doesn’t take affect until the extension pop-up is opened and closed and your undocumented memory limits that randomly kill extensions tell me otherwise.

Some quality time is due Safari. Fix these known and obvious web extension bugs.

And don’t gaslight me by telling me to submit a feedback… we both know the issues. Don’t put the onus on me by asking for a report, yet again.

Is it time to move on?

As the song says, if you love somebody, set them free. The problem is I can’t. Your restrictive policies mean that WebKit is the only way to browse the web on iOS.

I’m sure you’re going to say, let’s just move to Europe. Our relationship would be less restrictive there. You can use any browser engine you like in Europe. You can even try a third party app store.

While that may be good for Europeans, what good does it do for all those freedom loving, iPhone-toting citizens in the good ole US-of-A? Or people, like me, in the USA’s southern cousin Australia?

Are we supposed to ignore the potential of other browser engines? Never to be tempted by Firefox or Chrome? Never to truly know if variety is the spice of life?

You’re worth more than that Safari. If you truly believe you’re the best browser, it’s time to have the confidence to compete fairly. Let your competitors shine on the iPhone. Let them sparkle on the iPad. Let a thousand browser engines bloom.

Loosen your App Store policies just a little bit. It may be hard at first when you see all your user’s excited to try something new. But in the end, the competition will be good for you, it will make you stronger. It will make you better.

I know you can do it Safari. In your deepest thoughts, I think you know you can do better too.


Thoughts on privacy, tracking and advertising on the internet.

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