back to article Google, Mozilla both say they sped up the web today. One by blocking ads. One with ads

Mozilla's announced that its “Firefox Focus” ad-busting browser has made it to Android. Focus has been available on iOS since late 2016. The browser's lead feature is hiding traces of web searches so that ads can't follow you around the web. Mozilla feels doing so enhances privacy and speeds up surfing as you won't be …

  1. Len Goddard

    Up to 40%?

    "The ad giant says ad downloads shrink by between 15 and 40 per cent as a result and therefore delivers “faster page loads and less battery consumption.”"

    Eliminating the ads altogether results in a 100 per cent reduction - even faster and even less battery use

  2. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Up to 40%?

    But it also results in a 100% reduction in Google's earnings per page view, and they won't stand for that. If a proper ad blocking solution became popular on Android, they'd be forced to act to stop it.

  3. MrDamage

    Call me

    When it's actually available for download.

    Unless Google are deliberately blocking it on the Play store. Where'd I put my tinfoil hat?

  4. NB

    Re: Call me

    For some reason I could only find it after putting in the full text "firefox focus private browser" but it's in there.

  5. Wiltshire

    Re: Call me

    Try via DuckDuckGo?

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=firefox+focus+private+browser&t=ffsb&ia=web

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: Call me

    It's there, it's just got a very low page rank, for some reason...

  7. cb7

    Hmm

    "...now uses its Brotli compression algorithm to serve display ads. The ad giant says ad downloads shrink by between 15 and 40 per cent as a result and therefore delivers “faster page loads and less battery consumption.”

    Less battery consumption for the download process maybe. The compressed data has to be decompressed though and that has a processing/energy cost. I'd be surprised if overall battery consumption actually went down with compression.

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Hmm

    "I'd be surprised if overall battery consumption actually went down with compression."

    It's possible. The radio is quite power-hungry, which is why there are options to switch it off. Trading radio time for CPU time is a possible win (but I like Firefox's algorithm more).

    A hint for Google, since all their ads are targetted, they could probably get away with delivering the same ad multiple times, from the phone's local cache. That would be even more efficient. Looking even further ahead, build some kind of ad server into the phone, which downloads targetted ads in advance when plugged into the mains and using wifi, and delivers them effortlessly during the day when you are on battery and a mobile connection.

  9. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Re: Hmm

    I'd be surprised if overall battery consumption actually went down with compression.

    Be surprised then. For starters, guess what? It's already using compression, just gzip compression - 15-40% is how much better brotli is compared to gzip at compressing.

    Less radio usage results in less battery consumption, and these are very simple decompression algorithms. Radio on for 5 seconds vs radio on for 1 second and 0.1 second to decompress, which do you think is better for the battery?

    Brotli in particular is designed to be at least as fast as gzip in decompression, as good at compressing as bzip2, but at the expense of not overly caring how slow compression is.

  10. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Stop

    Re: Hmm

    "A hint for Google . . ."

    A) Don't give them ideas.

    B) I'm sure they've already considered it.

  11. Swarthy Silver badge

    Re: Hmm

    @Ken Hagan

    I really didn't want to upvote your post. The last thing we need is more advertisements. On the other hand, better methods of delivering them might make them suck less. On the gripping hand, a more efficient delivery system, with the concomitant reduction in suckage, would just encourage them to put in more ads until the suckage broke even (or had an overall increase).

  12. Captain DaFt

    Re: Hmm

    "Looking even further ahead, build some kind of ad server into the phone, which downloads targetted ads in advance when plugged into the mains and using wifi, and delivers them effortlessly during the day when you are on battery and a mobile connection."

    There's a word for that.

    If I discover any device in my possession doing that, it will immediately become very tiny bits of ex-device!

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    This situation is not long term stable.

    Sooner or later people will have to find a new funding model for web sites.

    Efforts should be rewarded.

  14. ArrZarr Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Thank you for reminding everybody. It's not just Google that suffers but all the ad-funded content that people consume will suffer with fewer ads being shown.

  15. K Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Let them suffer, at least for a while. It'll teach them a little humility that users are not cash cows. It'll also bring a reality and oversight to marketing team, who in my experience don't give a shit about impact, just short term visitor figures (I used to work for a marketing company and their attitude is enough to make any IT manager cry, when you have to deal with the fall out and blacklists etc)

  16. AMBxx Silver badge
    Pirate

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    For as long as there are auto-playing videos, I'll keep adblock et al.

  17. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    At a very rough guess El Reg might be making £20 a year from me. Now I could pay that as a subscription but I probably wouldn't. The Guardian makes considerably less but I am considering a subscription there too even though it's more expensive than advertising for the amount I use their site.

    Now it strikes me that if there were a central fund - maybe a subscription or akin to a TV licence - that publishers could tap into based on page impressions we could get around reader apathy. Now there'd be much arguing over the equivalent to a CPM (El Reg will demand a higher fee per impression than the Daily Mail) but it could work.

    The train companies already do something similar - you buy a London to Birmingham ticket and Virgin get 70%, London Midland 20% and Chiltern 10% or whatever the split is.

    It would need tracking to work, but that tracking wouldn't necessarily be used for anything else and avoiding it would almost certainly be considered fraud.

  18. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    "For as long as there are auto-playing videos, I'll keep adblock et al."

    For as long as ads give a third party I am not purposefully engaging with the opportunity to run code on my machine with little to no oversight, I'll keep blocking them.

  19. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Actually, on reflection I think I'd rather pay, it's just that I don't often find much worth paying for.

    If there was on option on Google that let me pay £5 a month for their services and freed me from all their insidious advertising and data collection, I suspect they'd be getting a hell of a lot more money than they could generate through advertising to me or using my data.

    I know the value of their data set is only realised when aggregated over lots and lots of people, but in the end it's all just snake oil to lure the advertisers. It can all be done with good old simple subject matter context, so that adverts relate to the content of the internet, not the personal information of people.

  20. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Unfortunately until the website owners finally understand that putting several screens worth of utterly useless, devaluing trash adverts all over their pages we're going to be stuck with his rubbish for some time. There are countless websites that I can no longer be bothered to visit because the experience is so painful.

    And I suspect that in traditional moronic marketing accounting practices, the owners of these websites are seeing less income from adverts and therefore increasing the number of adverts to compensate.

  21. Spudley

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    This situation is not long term stable.

    Sooner or later people will have to find a new funding model for web sites.

    Efforts should be rewarded.

    I fully agree with you.

    The thing is, ads don't *need* to be intrusive and annoying to be effective.

    The situation we've arrived at with an arms race between advertisers and browsers has ultimately been caused by a parallel arms race within the advertising industry itself, where every ad has to out-do the others around it in order to make itself seen.

    Combined with a vicious circle where website owners are getting paid less and less for showing more and more ads, and it's no wonder that things hit breaking point.

    I don't know what the solution is. As you say, revenue from advertising is necessary for supporting many good sites, but until the industry gets a grip on itself it's difficult to criticise anyone for using an ad-blocker.

  22. Spudley

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    For as long as there are auto-playing videos, I'll keep adblock et al.

    Good news for you then: The ability to block autoplay videos is also a new feature in Firefox.

  23. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Ads have gone from simple "animated GIFs" to von Neuman complete bundles of Flash and/or Javascript. Before you had to display ads, which was rather harmless, now you need to execute them, with all the security implications that brings.

    It's now a serious security problem not to have an ad blocker.

  24. AMBxx Silver badge
    WTF?

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    If there was on option on Google that let me pay £5 a month for their services and freed me from all their insidious advertising and data collection, I suspect they'd be getting a hell of a lot more money than they could generate through advertising to me or using my data

    I think you'll find Google take the £5 and still track you on the basis that a fool and their money are easily separated.

  25. Law

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    "Now it strikes me that if there were a central fund - maybe a subscription or akin to a TV licence - that publishers could tap into based on page impressions we could get around reader apathy"

    Wouldn't work - the good / small guys would get next to nothing, while the big guys start using any dirty tricks possible to game the system in their favor. I'm happy paying subscriptions (which I do)... I won't ever pay the TV license again though, I use none of the BBC content, yet they get the majority of it.

  26. Tikimon Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    "It would need tracking to work, but that tracking wouldn't necessarily be used for anything else and avoiding it would almost certainly be considered fraud."

    You, sir, have outlined our future government requirements for internet usage. And you said it like it was this benign thing, what could go wrong?

  27. Bucky 2
    Joke

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    @Law:

    I use none of the BBC content

    Am I given to understand you don't watch Dr. Who?

    Burn the witch!

  28. inmypjs Silver badge

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    "Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free"

    Everyone who buys anything pays for ads whether they see them or not.

    The only people getting stuff for free are the ones with no money to buy anything.

  29. Kiwi Silver badge
    Holmes

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Am I given to understand you don't watch Dr. Who?

    Burn the witch!

    I thought BBC dumped the good Dr, and sold it to Disney or some equally horrendous organisation who've immediately ruined it for all us Real True Fans(TM) and replaced the good Dr with someone IIRC named Crapoldie or something like that?

    (FTR, caught a couple of his eps - the one with the dragon in the moon - that was enough, even that Sylvester fella didn't get scripts that bad! - Not that C writes them but he does choose to act them rather than getting the rest of the cast&crew to revolt because lets face it, those scripts are revolting!)

    Sherlock because another half-decent thing ruined by US producers.

  30. Slow Dog

    Re: Paradox. Everyone hates ads. Everyone wants stuff for "free".

    Offer subscriptions for those who do not want to see ads. If the subs cannot cover the cost, find other ways to fund other than pestering and annoying the crap out of all who use said site.

  31. Richard 81

    If the ad spewers didn't make their ads as obnoxious as possible, there wouldn't be this problem. Whoever invented the full screen ad for mobile browsers deserves to be shot. Whoever invented the full screen ad for mobile browsers, capable of activating a mobile's vibrate function, deserves to be shot slowly.

  32. Adam 52 Silver badge

    I'd argue that whoever created a browser that lets them do the above needs to be taken away quietly and have the real world outside nerddom explained to them.

    And some blame must fall on the user for accepting a browser like that.

  33. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    and whoever decided that mouse moving off the top of a webpage should show a fullscreen "don't leave me" message should be shot too.

    Especially when I was intending to just move the tab to its own window, but instead I reach for the close button.

  34. DropBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Actually, I tried finding a way to disable that event from firing at all - so far, no luck. Any ideas anyone, other than "block all scripts" which leaves me with a glorified screenshot in my browser that reacts to nothing I do for 75% of websites...?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "ad downloads shrink by between 15 and 40 per cent "

    The advertising agencies hear: "we can have 39% more ads per page"

  36. Peter Prof Fox

    Adblocking helps the advertisers

    Because I wouldn't be buying their tat anyway, so I've saved them the cost of sending me something totally useless. My philanthropy is practically boundless

  37. Baldrickk Silver badge

    This is news?

    I've been using firefox on android for a while - with ad-blocking extension installed.

    I'm more interested in whether they have implemented one-handed zoom (tap-swipe instead of finger pinching)

  38. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: This is news?

    They haven't. There are also no tabs, bookmarks, add-ons, find in page, or sharing links to other apps. It's very simple secondary browser. Fast though.

    Maybe useful for other apps which want to open stuff in an external browser.

  39. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    I mean for many websites that would mean _much_ smaller pages and ads that are impossible to block.

    For the user it would mean much smaller pages, and that ads no longer run Javascript on your computer.´

    You could ad "tags" to your png file for tags and perhaps even video and audio stored in separate "HTML" objects. You could even ad "links" to images bordering your current image so you can scroll.

    Those websites would be rendered on the server for your display resolution. Webdevelopers would get pixel precise control over how it would look like.

    And on top of it all, it would greatly reduce the complexity of the web.

  40. Spudley

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    Sounds like Opera Mini is the browser for you.

  41. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    Well there is a crucial difference to Opera Mini. For it you have a centralized service. Here normal websites would do the job for you.

  42. ArrZarr Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    Great, until you try making a complex web based interface. Or try copying data from a web page. Or have a funky screen resolution. Or want to ctrl+F to find something on the page. Or want previously clicked links to show up in a different colour. Or want to reply to a comment.

  43. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    Sounds like a nightmare. The web is not a glossy brochure. But if you think it'll work use a page-size image map and test it (first question, how big is a page?).

  44. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    Well you could still delive the bare text as an addition and it still wouldn't be a large as our current mess. And obviously you'd transmit the window size and preference for font size to the server.

    BTW most of the problems you mention already happen because of bad web design.

  45. Bucky 2

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    For my money, you've got the problem/solution backwards.

    A bad web implementation uses images when well-considered css would produce the same effect.

    A bad web implementation uses javascript to provide layout and state-change feedback, again when css (well, modern css) is sufficient.

    I'd say your solution is an image-free, javascript-free experience, with nothing BUT text and css.

  46. Orv Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    No one writes a pile of Javascript where they could use CSS because they want to. The problem is support for most of the newer CSS features is very uneven, and if you have to use a Javascript polyfill for older browsers, you might as well just implement the stupid thing in Javascript to start with.

  47. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: Why don't we ditch HTML+CSS+JS and just deliver websites as PNGs/JPEGs?

    +1 in tribute to coffee spraying incident. Okay. The idea on its face is stupid. Now if someone got it to really work.. then it wouldn't be stupid. Scaling issues, region sense requirements for touch sensors... hmmm....

  48. Len Goddard

    Targeted ads

    If the targeting algorithms were in any way accurate, I would receive no ads at all. In fact, on the rare occasion I actually become aware of what an ad is offering it is generally because it has irritated me so much I have made a resolution to never buy that product. I haven't eaten Shredded Wheat since the "there are two men in my life" jingle first aired.

  49. Alumoi

    Re: Targeted ads

    So you remember the ad, remember the product it's associated with ergo it was effective.

    Me? I block the sh... whenever I can and you must use a hammer to make me associate a brand with an advert.

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