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An update on Google and the open web


This time last year, I wrote about how Google were spoiling my Blue Beanie Day. Well, it’s Blue Beanie Day again and in the year that has passed there have been some changes; some positive, others not so much.

Non-Chrome glitches

In last year’s article I complained that YouTube videos could be annoyingly glitchy on non-Chrome browsers:

Feels like Google are frustrating us into abandoning other browsers

This frustration has been alleviated by Extensions, Add-ons, and Plug-ins like Vinegar, that are even available for Safari on iOS.

Vinegar a pretty heavy-handed fix as far as Google would be concerned, as it removes any tracking and adverts (Google’s whole business model), but that might just be what I love most about it!

Proprietary web formats

Extensions have also helped with Google’s insidious attempt at a proprietary web format, AMP. There are a few good extensions, but Overamped is the most fully featured:

Overamped is a Safari Web Extension that redirects AMP [links] to their canonical equivalents. It can do this from search results … or from any other source such as links opened from apps, received via Messages, or on any webpage.

Even better, good will for AMP is waning, with prominent companies like Twitter are rolling back AMP support. So between helpers we can add and general lack of trust in the format, it looks like AMP’s days are numbered.

Not all good news

Unsurprisingly, some things are just the same, for example Google Docs still works better in Chrome, but I’m persevering; at least they’re not the absolute shitshow Microsoft’s Office products are…

Other issues have come to my attention, like when Chrome sneakily logs you into the browser when you use a Google service:

Changes like this one … are fodder for critics who say Google is slowly converting Chrome from a neutral platform into something designed to push people toward Google services and the Google way of doing things.

Finally, some things have gotten worse. The big one actually surfaced a couple of weeks after my last Blue Beanie Day post went out; from the Chrome is Bad website:

Google Chrome installs an updater called Keystone on your computer, which is bizarrely correlated to massive unexplained CPU usage in WindowServer (a system process), and made my whole computer slow even when Chrome wasn’t running. Deleting Chrome and Keystone made my computer way, way faster, all the time.

As far as I know, Keystone is still an issue, nearly 12 months after it was reported.

This get-users-data-at-all-costs agenda that Google seems to be pushing is bad for web standards. Let’s keep fighting it by using Firefox and Safari, leveraging extensions, and while we’re at it why not use a privacy-first search engine like Duck Duck Go?

Accessibility in your inbox

I send an accessibility-centric newsletter on the last day of every month, containing:

  • A roundup of the articles I’ve posted
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More posts

Here are a couple more posts for you to enjoy. If that’s not enough, have a look at the full list.

  1. WWDC 2024 roundup

    I got al the features I wanted from this year’s WWDC, Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference; as ever, there were also a few surprises!

  2. How to browse the web with the keyboard alone

    Some people use the keyboard to get around their computer. Knowing how to do this is important for accessibility testing and to inform design.