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PEACE AND QUIET

There’s now a great reason to use Apple’s Safari web browser

A guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
A guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

Amid a string of high-profile announcements at the keynote address of Apple’s annual developer conference, where the company introduced a slew of new laptops, computers, and a new smart speaker, there was one small announcement that could have a profound affect on how most people surf the web.

As part of Apple’s upgrade to its macOS computer operating system, Craig Federighi, the company’s head of software, said onstage that the next version of Safari will block any videos or audio that automatically play on websites. It’s become a trend in recent years that many media sites—and social networks like Facebook and Twitter—have engaged in, loading and playing videos the instant someone navigates to their sites. This because advertising on videos is far more lucrative than that sold against any other type of content, so sites try any way they can to get those videos to play to users, no matter how annoying, aggravating, infuriating, maddening, irksome, frustrating, or any other pesky-like adjective you’d like to use it is for users.

Apple, that citadel of good user experience, seems to want to put a stop to this practice. As Ad Age points out, less than 5% of people browse the web on computers using Safari—compared to Google Chrome, which has roughly 60% of the market. A service like this, that actually could make users’ lives more pleasant, might help it increase its market share, and drive additional business for Apple’s ecosystem of services. Then again, making the browser faster and less prone to getting hung up might also help drive market share.

Apple also announced a feature that will stop users from being tracked and shown advertisements for the same item to buy at websites around the internet, although further information on how it would do this, beyond using “machine learning” was not revealed in the presentation.

Apple’s next iteration of its computer software, which will be called macOS High Sierra, will be released as a free download for existing Mac owners in the autumn.

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