Web browsers have come a very long way since Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer 1.0. A very long way indeed. These days, of course, many people use mobile browsers, so the changing demands on browsers have been reflected in new innovations. Concerns around privacy and security have also increased in the last decade, so the best web browsers bring peace of mind as well as fast, efficient, pleasant browsing.
Here’s our run down of the four best browsers in 2020, with something for everyone.
As of August 2020, Chrome for Android held a whopping 65% of the global browser market share, way ahead of its nearest rival, Safari, on 16.8%. Clearly, it’s a favorite for the majority of web users, and is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS – but it’s not without its faults.
Chrome is notoriously resource-hungry and can be slow if RAM is limited. However, Chrome does boast excellent cross platform support and sync features and has an enormous library of add-ons to do just about anything you please.
Chrome does well on security, with secure DNS lookup and the ability to block scripts and images. Google’s Safe Browsing feature warns you if you’re heading towards somewhere you might not want to be. Its usability is also very high, speeding things up by enabling searching from the address bar and offering to auto-fill your data into forms. DataSaver compresses images and other objects to reduce your data usage by up to 60%.
However, some people simply don’t like pervasiveness of Google in their online lives; if you’re one of them, you might want to choose an alternative browser.
Once Internet Explorer fell out of favor, it seemed like Microsoft were the losers in the Great Browser Wars. However, Microsoft Edge, released in 2015, has gained my fans with its useful features and reliable speed.
Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, so if you’re familiar with Chrome, you’ll feel right at home. It’s the default browser for Windows devices and it’s also available on iOS, Mac and Android.
A big win for Microsoft Edge is its privacy tools, which are fine-grained enough to give you total control over exactly what specific sites can show you or do. Customization and personalization options are also strong in Edge.
The mobile version lacks some of the sophistication of other mobile browsers, but the sync options are good, so if you use Edge on your desktop or laptop, it’s worth having on your mobile devices too.
What most people love about Edge is its speed. The ability to download web pages as apps means that you can run things like Twitter without having to launch the browser. There are good content discovery tools too, and a growing range of add-ons.
Edge is still gaining in popularity and is one to watch for the future.
The Firefox browser has been around since 2004, so the brand doesn’t have the novelty factor of some of the newer additions to the browser market. However, the fact that it has stood the test of time is an indication of its quality – and in 2020, Firefox is still an excellent browser, particularly for power users.
Endlessly customizable, Firefox can be made to look and feel just how you like it. It has good privacy protection features, alerting users if your email address is included in a data breach, blocking notification popups and stopping third party companies tracking and tracing your digital fingerprint. It also has a huge library of plugins and good cross platform sync options. It’s available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
For power users, Firefox is second to none when it comes to features like bookmarks and tab synching, making it easy to manage dozens of tabs at once and to keep on top of complex browsing and online activity.
Where Firefox does fall down slightly is on speed. An update in 2019 did start to fix performance issues, however, and today it runs solidly.
There’s also Firefox Focus, which is a dedicated privacy browser with enhanced content blocking features and tracking protection tools; this is a good option for mobiles with limited space, as it only takes up 4MB on your phone.
In 2019, a major issue stopped all add-ons working for a short while, causing confusion and frustration around the world – and there are some doubts about Mozilla’s future, so whether Firefox will continue to thrive is currently up for debate. While it’s here, however, it’s still a favorite for many people.
Opera is the browser of choice for people who are forever spotting interesting content and needing to remind themselves where they found it. Built in content tools such as Flow are elegant and efficient, making research and keeping track of content a breeze.
Based on Chromium, it’s a speedy browser which can make use of many Chrome add-ons. Opera’s integrated virtual private network is strong on privacy, reducing tracking and boosting security, and it has a built-in ad blocker and a Crypto Wallet for cryptocurrency transactions. It’s available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
With a pleasing interface, and many useful features, Opera delivers personalized content and a good incognito mode. The mobile version also has a built-in data saver, and there is good sync support across platforms and devices.