Ask the Expert

What’s the best web browser to use?

Ming Chow, E02, E04, a lecturer in computer science at the School of Engineering, reveals his favorite
June 27, 2011

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In my class on web development, we use and develop for all browsers, not just one. But for web browsing, I would suggest going with Google Chrome. Why? In short, speed. It has been shown through testing to be the fastest of all browsers in uploading pages. It is also simple.

And at a much deeper level, it supports many cutting- and bleeding-edge features, including geolocation (determining your latitude and longitude), improved 3D graphics rendering with WebGL, and Canvas for 2D graphics and video/audio rendering.

Despite my choice of Google Chrome, it is always ideal to have one or two other browsers installed on your machine. That’s because a page might not render on Chrome, and so you can fall back and try to open it with another browser. Also, Google Chrome does not have all of the greatest features. For example, Safari, which is available for PCs as well as Macs, has the “Reader” feature that makes a web page more readable by removing ads, banners and navigation.

It is always ideal to have one or two other browsers installed on your machine, says Ming Chow. Photo: iStockThe next big change in web browsing will be the adoption that’s going on right now of HTML5, the latest version of the computer language that is the backbone of the web, which will make the browsing experience richer and more accessible.

Using HTML5, videos can be embedded onto web pages and played without using Adobe’s Flash player. In addition, you can also play videos closed-captioned with HTML5. Location services, too, are a major part of HTML5. For example, websites track your geographic coordinates—knowing, say, that your computer is in Medford, Mass.—and content such as search results and ads can be tailored to Medford and surrounding areas. Finally, elements such as images can be dragged and dropped on web pages thanks to HTML5.

HTML5 is starting to be adopted widely for two reasons. First, the expectations for a rich browsing experience are extraordinarily high. Second, mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and most versions of Android do not support Flash, and thus Apple and Google are pushing HTML5. Countless companies such as CBS, Google, Scribd, Brightcove, Adobe and YouTube are currently making heavy use of HTML5. Safari and Chrome both support HTML5 very well. Finally, Microsoft is also pushing HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9, its latest browser for Windows 7.

The acid test for your browser is to take the HMTL5 test. As of today, Chrome scores the highest compared to all the other browsers.

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