Safari's getting mobile browser extensions before Chrome, and that's a big deal
Browser extensions let you do things like block ads, fill in passwords and find coupons while shopping. Try adding that to an app.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertiseprocessors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, scienceCredentials
I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Extensions expand browser capabilities, allowing them to block ads and prevent online tracking, for example. Others fill in passwords, translate text, spruce up Wikipedia and track down original photos online. Extensions are already available for the Mac version of Safari.
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant announced the expansion of its extension technology earlier this week at WWDC, its annual developers conference. Apple has been testing mobile Safari extensions with three developers: Grammarly, a grammar checker; Honey, a coupon finder; and Momentum, a tab manager.
Browser extensions aren't for everyone. But they illustrate how much power the web can offer in your online life -- a power that's typically not available through apps.
Apple isn't the first company to roll out mobile extensions. Firefox and Kiwi allow the browsers to be extended with new software when running on Android. But the
maker did beat
, which pioneered the extensions for its Chrome browser. The technology has now been embraced by all major browser makers.
Google declined to comment.
As with Safari for Macs, you'll find and install extensions for mobile Safari using Apple's app store.
At WWDC, Apple introduced a new programming interface that's designed to prevent extensions from draining your battery fast. Extensions often perform tasks in invisible "background" tabs that consume computing resources.
Apple's fix is non-persistent background pages, which let Safari run extension code only when needed, Safari engineer Ellie Epskamp-Hunt said in a WWDC talk. To use them, an extension tells Safari to check for particular actions that will trigger the extension to run. At other times, Safari shuts down its background page to save memory, processor power and battery life.
Non-persistent background pages are an option for the upcoming Safari 15 on Macs and
but will be required on iPhones to save resources, Epskamp-Hunt said.