Google Chrome And Firefox Extensions Differences
Update: Extensions are now an integral part of the Google Chrome web browser. We have updated the article to reflect that at the end of it.
We all know that the Google Chrome development team is planning to add extensions to the web browser. Extensibility seems to be one of the key features that many users, especially Firefox users, expect from a web browser.
A developer's build of the Google browser was released with basic extension support a while ago but it is not clear yet when the public will be able to download a version of the Google browser supporting extensions.
It might be interesting however to evaluate how Chrome's extension API differs from Firefox's. The Google System blog published a short post and Google Docs presentation that details how Google Chrome will be handling browser extensions.
- The web browser does not need to be restarted after installing an extension.
- Google Chrome extensions are updated automatically to make sure that the user is always running the latest version.
- They are also automatically compatible will future browser versions which means that developers do not need to update their extensions if the web browser version is updated. (like in Firefox).
- Each extension will run in a separate process which is interesting from both a security and performance standpoint. Future versions of the Firefox web browser will get rid of the forced restart after extension installation as well.
Google Chrome adds some interesting features which make life more comfortable and easier. The main difference now is that Firefox users can download and install thousands of Firefox add-ons while Google Chrome users will have to wait until they can start using user-generated extensions. The future however looks interesting.
Chrome extensions are less powerful in what they can do, but they are more secure at the same time because of that limitation and the separation in processes.
Things have changed quite a bit in recent time. Mozilla plans to move Firefox's extension system to the very same that Chrome uses, but extend it further to make it more powerful.
Here is the new list of features and issues of extension support in Google Chrome and Firefox:
- Extensions can only be installed directly from Chrome's Web Store. Google plans to prevent third party installations in Chrome Stable and Beta in 2014.
- Google disallows certain extension types from being uploaded and made available in the store.
- Extensions are automatically compatible with new browser versions.
- Extensions run in separate processes for increased security.
- Modern extensions for Firefox do not require a restart of the browser anymore.
- Extensions are automatically compatible with new versions of Firefox.
- Extensions pre-Firefox 57 can modify anything.
- Extensions post-Firefox 57 are still more powerful than Chrome Extensions, but less powerful than classic Firefox add-ons.
- Mozilla does not restrict extension types from being made available on the AMO (Mozilla Add-ons) website.