Internet Explorer 8 isn’t an old browser (the latest version came in 2010). Yet, when you try to open Gmail with Internet Explorer 8, you get an error message that tells you that you need to catch up and begin using a modern browser.
If you’ve always only used Firefox or Chrome (one of the “modern” browsers), you probably take the drag-and-drop file upload feature in Gmail for granted. You will find that this doesn’t go quite smoothly when you use Internet Explorer 8. Modern browsers have a number of other tricks up their sleeve, too. If you haven’t read up on them, you’re probably not aware the new directions in which your browser is headed these days.
It can natively play video
Thanks to Apple’s iOS and its lack of support for Adobe Flash video, most people are aware of how iOS depends on the alternative that will be the web video standard one day soon – HTML5. Even if the establishment of HTML as a universal web video standard is some way off, modern browsers can already play videos on websites that feature this playback technology.
YouTube already offers HTML video playback for devices that don’t have Flash installed (YouTube still use Flash for its advertisements). If you have a modern browser, it will seamlessly play back HTML5, Ogg Theora, H264 and any other format. You may not even be aware that you aren’t on Flash anymore.
Not only can modern browsers play regular videos natively, they can render 3-D graphics natively, too. The standard they use for this is called WebGL. Google Maps uses it for smoother 3D renditions.
It can mimic an operating system
Google Docs, Calendar and Kindle cloud reader – not only are browsers able to run add-on apps like these act like mini operating systems now, they let you download data on your computer for access later on. The Kindle app, for instance, you get to download books to read off-line.
Browsers truly are turning into little virtual operating systems. They can now record video and take pictures with your webcam. Pretty soon, you won’t need a separate Skype application. Your browser will be able to run Skype off a website.
There was the time when only Windows could access your notification area to pop up notifications – perhaps that your battery was running low. Now, websites running on modern browsers can do the same thing. Email websites have been able to pop up new message notifications for quite a while now. Google Calendar can pop reminder messages, too.
Perhaps the most OS-like ability in today’s browsers lies in the way they can run code. Google Chrome has something called Native Client. Many websites can use this feature to run hard-core programming code like C++ on your Chrome browser. Browser-based multiplayer video games use this feature quite a bit.