Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla are working together to improve web standards used in browsers and devices. It might sound like a cool superhero crossover episode, but it’s not the first time the browser giants have pooled their resources, they started working together in 2019.
Last year, the 4 browser makers collaborated for the Compat 2021 conference. This time the alliance is called Interop 2022, derived from the word interoperability.
Why is this important?
When a website tries to prevent access to a particular browser by saying something like, that site is best viewed in Chrome. Or, “please use a modern browser”, and providing links to browsers you don’t use is annoying. You can usually work around this problem by spoofing the user agent, either by using an add-on or by changing a preference in the program settings. It’s not very complicated, but think about it.
Have you ever encountered a website that does not work properly in a browser? It may load slowly, appear broken, or use a lot of resources when rendering the page. But when you try to access the portal from another browser, it might load just fine. In such scenarios, the problem is not on the user’s side per se. People jokingly blame these bugs on web developers and say they didn’t code/test the site properly, to see if it’s compatible with all modern browsers. Many users claim that YouTube works better on Chromium browsers than on Firefox. Likewise, you may have seen a difference in performance on other sites.
What is Interop 2022?
The issue is not that simple though, there is also the issue of device and operating system compatibility that needs to be considered. A website should work well on all major Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS platforms. Coding a website to support all of these standards takes a lot of effort and time.
This is one of the concerns that the browser alliance aims to address. Tech giants want to make it easier for developers by setting universal web standards, which will allow them to code their apps and websites to work across all browsers and platforms.
Interop 2022 provides a benchmark that evaluates the performance of Chrome/Edge, Firefox, and Safari in tests covering 15 different web performance areas, including cascading layers, color spaces and functions, containment, dialog element, forms, scrolling, sub-grid, typography and encodings, display window. Units and Web Compat.
There is no winner or loser here as this is not a contest, the tests are meant to indicate where one browser needs improvement, compared to others. If you’re curious about the numbers, head over to the Web Platform Testing Dashboard on the Interop 2022 website and analyze the results.
ComputerWorld mentions that Apple does not allow iOS apps to use their own browser engine. Because of this restriction, every browser in the App Store, including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, all uses Safari’s Webkit-based engine. This is one of the concerns raised by the developers. Hopefully this will change in the future.
If you are interested in technical data, read the blog posts that have been published on the websites of Apple, Google, Mozilla and Microsoft.