Safari is actually better than Chrome

Mac users tend to overlook Safari, and my understanding is that at first glance it seems underpowered, and anyone coming from Windows probably has a long-standing habit of installing Chrome.

But this is a mistake. Everyone who owns a Mac should give Safari a try for at least a few weeks, because in my opinion it's very good. Now, I'm just a guy who spends way too much time on the internet. I was wrong about a lot of things, and I certainly don't mean to say that any Mac user using Chrome or Arc is objectively wrong. I just happen to prefer Safari.

Safari’s Reader Mode is Perfect

The modern web is a nightmare to browse. Too many websites, including some you may be reading right now, disrupt the reading experience with ads, pop-ups, more ads, sidebars, and advertisements. Safari's Reader mode removes all of that and displays only what you want: the articles on the current page. Even better: the entire website stays open in the background, which means you're not even blocking ads from the website's perspective.

Several browsers offer a reader mode, but in my experience, Safari offers the best one. It always does the best job of extracting the entire article with just one click or using keyboard shortcuts. Even better: you can set Reader Mode as your default experience for any website. Just open any particularly annoying page, click Safari in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and then click the Settings option just below Settings. If available, check "Use Reader" and this mode will be triggered by default whenever you open an article on the site. I can't tell you how many previously unreadable websites have become useful again after discovering this feature.

Google Chrome doesn't really offer a reading mode, at least not one that can be used without accessing a hidden settings page. Arc offers one as a beta tool, but in my experience it doesn't work very well. Neither app offers a setting to use reader mode by default for certain websites. For me, this is the main reason why I prefer Safari.

Better privacy features

One way to think about tech companies and how they will treat you is to look at their incentives. Apple is basically a hardware company. Sure, it sells services, but for the most part, Apple makes its money when you buy a phone or computer. Google, meanwhile, is an advertising company whose revenue model is based on collecting user information. Having Chrome helps them accomplish this mission. (Arc currently doesn’t make money – more on that later.)

So, do I trust Apple? not completely. But the company has publicly positioned Safari as a more privacy-focused alternative to Google Chrome, and I think it's in its best interest to pursue that goal. By default, the browser blocks cross-site tracking and can completely hide your IP address from trackers. Privacy changes like this are having a real impact—it will cost Facebook $10 billion by 2022, so it will make at least a small difference.

Chrome, meanwhile, is going another route. The browser will roll out an update to how extensions work this summer (called Manifest V3). The Electronic Frontier Foundation quotes Daly Barnett's post on the matter, calling it "deceptive and threatening to privacy-protecting extensions, including ad blockers":

(Update) will limit the functionality of web extensions, especially those designed to monitor, modify, and calculate conversations between your browser and the websites you visit. Under the new specification, the functionality of such extensions (such as some privacy-preserving tracker blockers) will be significantly reduced. Google's efforts to limit this access are concerning, especially considering that Google installs trackers on 75% of the top one million websites.

No big tech company can be trusted when it comes to privacy, but its incentives are clear. Apple wants to be seen as privacy-friendly, while Google is happy to use its control over the most popular browsers on the market to make privacy-enhancing extensions less useful.

To be honest, Arc is a bit weird

At this point, many people may suggest that I try Arc. I have: It has been my daily driver for almost a year. I liked it, but I'm now back to using Safari. Honestly, I know it's not satisfying, but it's mostly about resonance. I don't think Arc is better than Chrome - it is. I really want to like Arc because I like some of the features in it, especially the command bar, and I wish all browsers offered that feature.

But eventually, at a certain point, using Arc starts to feel like a chore. On one hand, it has some minor issues, but that's to be expected from a beta product. I'm not someone who keeps a lot of tabs open at the same time, so all the tab management features always felt like overkill to me. I never really figured out how to have two windows open at the same time, even after making changes that were supposed to make it easier. And I don’t care about all the AI ​​features that have been added recently.

Mostly, though, I think tools should be far away from me, and the Arc really, really wants to remind me that it's there. Not only will there be updates every week, but users will also be pushed an inevitable blog post outlining what's in the new update. Honestly, as someone who has been online for a while, I just don't understand how this company makes money in the long term. Its privacy policy looks pretty good, and the company has been very vocal that it doesn't plan to sell data, but I simply don't believe that a company that raised $68 million in venture capital (and currently has no revenue) is going to be good to us in the long term. User privacy will be respected. It feels inevitable that at some point, the company will be forced to sell and the enshitification cycle will begin. (I hope I'm wrong.)

That's not to say Apple is perfect in this regard. I'm just saying that I understand how it makes money selling hardware, and I'm not worried that market forces will make Safari eventually suck. It might happen, but it doesn't feel inevitable.

None of this is ironclad or a list of reasons why I think you shouldn't use Arc - a lot of people really like it! I know this feels like a bit of a rant. All I know is that switching back to Safari after nearly a year of using Arc feels like a relief.

Don’t ignore Safari

Again, these are mostly just the ramblings of someone who spends too much time online and too much time switching between browsers. Still, I'll keep using Safari because it works well and doesn't get in my way. But there are drawbacks, such as the extension ecosystem not being strong enough and some poorly designed websites completely breaking down in Safari. For the most part, though, Safari is a tool that gets the job done efficiently. I like it better than other browsers, and if you give it a chance, you might like it too.