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  (Source: Marvel Comics)
Apple will likely be left on its lonesome supporting WebKit

For a long while now WebKit (derived from KHTML) has been marching towards being the dominant rendering engine of the web.  Competing against Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) proprietary Trident engine and the Mozilla Foundation's open-source Gecko engine, WebKit powers a number of browsers.  

Google, Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome, Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) Safari, and BlackBerry Ltd.'s (TSE:BB) device browsers all use WebKit.  And with Norwegian browser-maker Opera Software ASA's (OSE:OPERA) decision to ditch its proprietary Presto engine and saddle up with WebKit, it seemed WebKit was headed towards hegemony.

I. Google -- Do Blink

But today Google shook up the browser tree, announcing that it would be branching Chromium's rendering engine off of WebKit.  The new engine will be dubbed "Blink".  What's more Opera has already announced that it will be joining the new effort.

Apple appears unlikely to make the switch.  It's unclear whether BlackBerry will.

Google says its main reason for jumping to a new branch is because it uses a more complex multi-process model than Apple -- the other biggest WebKit contributor.  Google's Adam Barth writes:

Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation.

Chromium Multi-Process
Chromium is a little complex multi-process-wise. [Image Source: Google]

The change won't happen overnight, but the jump means that the engine behind Chrome (Blink) and WebKit will gradually drift apart.

II. Practicality or a Competitive Maneuver?

Alex Russell, another Google Chrome engineer, reemphasizes this point, predicting that coverage on Blink will be full of "tripe we’re about to sell each other as 'news.'"  He writes that the two major drivers of the switch were development time and processing speed.  He writes:

Why couldn’t those cycle-time-improving changes happen inside WebKit? After all, much work has happened in the past 4 years (often by Googlers) to improve the directness of WebKit work: EWS bots, better code review flow, improved scripts and tools for managing checkins, the commit queue itself. The results have been impressive and have enabled huge growth and adoption by porters. WebKit now supports multiple multi-process architecture designs, something like a half-dozen network stack plug-ins, and similar diversity at every point where the engine calls back to outside systems for low-level implementation (GPU, network, storage, databases, fonts…you name it). The community is now committed to enabling porters, and due to WebKit’s low-ish level of abstraction each new port raises the tax paid by every other port.

As James Robinson has observed, this diversity creates an ongoing drag when the dependencies are intertwined with core APIs in such a way that they can bite you every time you go to make a change. The Content API boundary is Blink’s higher-level “embedding” layer and encapsulates all of those concerns, enabling much cleaner lines of sight through the codebase and the removal of abstractions that seek only to triangulate between opaque constraints of other’s port.

In other words, aside from the process model, another place where Apple and Google's objectives differ is platform support.  Google supports many platforms -- Apple supports only one.  Google wants to go back to the drawing board and better encapsulate the platform implementations to prevent them from slowing the overall engine.

Google Chrome Logo'
Google is leaving Apple on its lonesome to develop WebKit. [Image Source: Google]

But as much as Mr. Russell emphasizes practical necessities, there is one implication that's at least an interesting coincidence, to say the least: Google branching away from the core WebKit is a major blow to Apple.  

For some time now Apple could rely on Google to make WebKit as fast and reliable as possible.  Apple, thus, effectively gained a better Safari for Macs and i-devices thanks, in part, to Google's labors.  Now it will have to go it alone.

Google may say the move is mere practicality -- and it certain does offer a strong justification in support of that claim.  But the branch is yet one more instance of how Google and Apple -- once close allies -- are drifting apart as their relationship becomes increasingly adversarial.

Sources: Google, Infrequently [Google Chrome Engineer]



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RE: Apple
By UpSpin on 4/5/2013 8:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They may not be charging money for a lot of what they offer but there is a steep price - your personal information and a record of just about everything you do on the web. People whine about adware and yet fail to acknowledge that Google is essentially one of the biggest adware companies in existence (it was started by a russian guy and they love their adware).


That's wrong. You're always free to use Android without Google services! No one forces you to use Google Maps, no one forces you to use the Play Store, (unlike on iOS or Windows). No one forces you to sync your contacts and calendar with Google.
You can use Waze, ..., you can use Amazon store, ...
Additionally can't Android (Google) create a monopoly, because others can fork it and create their own OS (Amazon, Sony, ... all did it, and all are independent of Google)

quote:
Competition tends to benefit the consumer and industry by motivating companies offering the same or similar products to continually improve. Google has competition but it's a lot like Microsoft was in its heyday, where the competition is there but it's really not putting up much of a fight...none of that suggests that the lack of competition google is facing is a good thing for anyone - it's not.

I agree that competition is good. But even if Apple and MS and Blackberry and Mozilla, ... fail and vanish and we only have Android, even then, there's no monopoly, because you can do with Android what you want.
Android runs on X86, ARM, on any CPU available, on any CPU you want it to run. iOS not, Windows not! iOS runs only on Apple SoC, WP only on Qualcomm. That hinders competition!
You can put Android in an eReader (Sony) independent of Google. You can put Android in your own ecosystem (Amazon) inependent of Google. You can change whatever you want and do with it whatever you want.
Only if you want to use the Playstore and the Google services, only then, you have to accept ads and share some personal information. And manufacturers have to follow some rules dictated by Google. But only if they want to use Google services.

See the facebook phone: Why does home only exist on Android! Because only on Android they're allowed to do it!


RE: Apple
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/2013 1:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
Man you nailed it. I have nothing left to add to such a great post.

Sad not everyone gets it.


RE: Apple
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/2013 1:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
Man you nailed it. I have nothing left to add to such a great post.

Sad not everyone gets it.


RE: Apple
By EricMartello on 4/5/2013 10:58:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
That's wrong. You're always free to use Android without Google services! No one forces you to use Google Maps, no one forces you to use the Play Store, (unlike on iOS or Windows). No one forces you to sync your contacts and calendar with Google.


Nothing I said is wrong and, more importantly, I never said I that google has a monopoly with Android...what I did say is that the competition in the mobile OS market is very limited, and that the notion that Google is not "charging" for what they are apparently "giving away for free" is heavily misguided.

Even if you do not use google's services, websites that you visit may use Google's ads or analytics - both track your movements over the web as well as a lot of other info about what you do...so not using google isn't somehow shielding you from their tentacles.

quote:
You can use Waze, ..., you can use Amazon store, ...
Additionally can't Android (Google) create a monopoly, because others can fork it and create their own OS (Amazon, Sony, ... all did it, and all are independent of Google)


Any fork would be considered a "competing OS" to some extent. Why don't you start by gaining an understanding of what a monopoly is - it is when one company has full control over an industry or resource(s). Android in itself may not make a case for google being a monopoly, but when it is considered together with all of googles business activities as a whole, you'd have to be very dim-witted to say that google is not effectively "controlling" the internet. Maybe not exclusively...yet.

quote:
I agree that competition is good. But even if Apple and MS and Blackberry and Mozilla, ... fail and vanish and we only have Android, even then, there's no monopoly, because you can do with Android what you want.


Being able to "do what you want" with android does not preclude it from becoming a contributing factor to google's eventual monopoly over modern communications.


RE: Apple
By UpSpin on 4/6/2013 8:42:26 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
what I did say is that the competition in the mobile OS market is very limited, and that the notion that Google is not "charging" for what they are apparently "giving away for free" is heavily misguided.

What I was saying: Google is giving Android away for free.
You can use, modify and do whatever you want with it and don't have to pay Google anything in whatever form you want. ONLY if you want to use the optional Google services like Maps, Store, ... you have to accept some restricitions, otherwise, Google is giving it away for free and nothing is misguided.

quote:
Even if you do not use google's services, websites that you visit may use Google's ads or analytics - both track your movements over the web as well as a lot of other info about what you do...so not using google isn't somehow shielding you from their tentacles.

If you're lazy and turn on Cookies, remain logged in, ... only then Google/Facebook/... is able to track you. You can surf in private mode, or just don't use the comfort functions like always logged in. No ad company can track you across more than 1 session or even more than 1 browser window. But people are lazy, people enjoy using the like button on each site, that's not an issues of Google, but of the people. I'm free to not use and even block it, and you know what? I blocked it.

quote:
Android in itself may not make a case for google being a monopoly, but when it is considered together with all of googles business activities as a whole, you'd have to be very dim-witted to say that google is not effectively "controlling" the internet. Maybe not exclusively...yet.

I share your fear and agree with you. But currently there's heavy competition and I doubt that this will change soon, companies like Amazon, MS, Apple, Facebook, are just too large and popular to change this. And by the nature of Android, even Samsung can create a competive eco system.

quote:
Being able to "do what you want" with android does not preclude it from becoming a contributing factor to google's eventual monopoly over modern communications.

Indeed it does. Just take a look at Facebook. Facebook was able to replace the Android stock launcher with their own, they are even able to do more, and fully exclude Google and integrate their messaging app, ... Amazon built their own tablets with their own ecosystem, no Google at all. On Android you can replace the stock browser with anything you like. You don't have to use Google maps, but can use whatever you want.
All this is prohibited on iOS and WP!
So as long as you can use on Android whatever software you like, and as long as Google publishes the source code of the latest iterations and as long as you are free to use it without Google, there's no reason to fear.


RE: Apple
By EricMartello on 4/7/2013 2:03:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What I was saying: Google is giving Android away for free.
You can use, modify and do whatever you want with it and don't have to pay Google anything in whatever form you want. ONLY if you want to use the optional Google services like Maps, Store, ... you have to accept some restricitions, otherwise, Google is giving it away for free and nothing is misguided.


Google made android to get its way into the mobile web market. I've already explained why google's "free" things are not free in my first post so I'm not going to repeat myself.

Since android is derived from linux it is pointless to mention that you can change the code to remove all association to google - the point is that android is the vehicle google decided upon to continue their tight control over digital communications.

quote:
If you're lazy and turn on Cookies, remain logged in, ... only then Google/Facebook/... is able to track you. You can surf in private mode, or just don't use the comfort functions like always logged in.


That's actually false and misleading. If you disable 3rd party cookies you may stop some smaller ad networks from tracking you. If you disable all cookies you will break the functionality of most websites, including sessions which means you would not be able to log into a website that requires a login.

quote:
No ad company can track you across more than 1 session or even more than 1 browser window. But people are lazy, people enjoy using the like button on each site, that's not an issues of Google, but of the people. I'm free to not use and even block it, and you know what? I blocked it.


You're obviously outside of your element here...

Google can and does track you on various websites that use ANY google service - which is a LOT of websites. A simple snippet of javascipt is all it takes.

Oh, but you're a smart one and disabled javascript...no way they can track you. Wait, you forgot about the ability to encode session data into a graphic file which is downloaded when you load a site. Ok...disable images and broswer cache...but what about iframes? Evercookies?

The options to track you are numerous and there is little you can do to block google's tracking codes from loading each time you visit a website without reverting your web experience to those old ANSI BBS systems.

To block "everything" you'd basically have to uninstall all of your web browsing software and go back to using a text browser like lynx...even then you would not be free from their grip.

Webmasters that use ANY google service, usually adsense or analytics, have this code embedded into their websites...so it does track you across domains because the tracking code loads from google's own domain on each website. Google's tracking codes are their own instances/sessions regardless of the website you are looking at.

So to correct you - you believe you are blocking something and yet you are not because you are unaware of the insidious nature of google's "free" stuff. You are being watched and your movements over the web are logged.

quote:
Amazon, MS, Apple, Facebook, are just too large and popular to change this.


These entities play in a different arena, and while they have made attempts to chip away at google's dominance, google still controls what information is dispensed by the internet and to whom.

quote:
So as long as you can use on Android whatever software you like, and as long as Google publishes the source code of the latest iterations and as long as you are free to use it without Google, there's no reason to fear.


You are free to think so but Android has already played its part for google and google is already well-established in the smartphone web market.


"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner














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