Two major web developers on Wednesday announced updates designed to affect the functionality of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) technology. The Brave browser and DuckDuckGo browser and extensions will give users the option to disable AMP.
Why should you even care about AMP? You may not realize this, but when you’re on your iPhone or iPad and you do a Google search and tap on a search result to open a webpage, that webpage may be an AMP version, not the original website’s. Google created AMP four years ago so that website could “provide a well-lit path to building great web-based experiences.” In other words, AMP pages are supposed to load faster for the user, which can be especially useful on a mobile device. An AMP webpage is produced using a subset of HTML, and AMP webpages are “served directly from Google AMP Cache,” according to Google.
Faster page loads sound ideal from a user standpoint, but why are Brave, DuckDuckGo, and others providing the ability to block AMP? As you probably know, Google makes its money from its ability to collect user data and then serve ads based on that data on the webpages you browse. Brave, DuckDuckGo, and other companies believe that Google uses AMP as another means toward this end. You can learn more about AMP in the help section for Google Ads.
In the four years since AMP was released, websites have gotten better at creating websites optimized for mobile devices, so much so that Google stopped prioritizing AMP pages in its search results. So AMP really comes down to data tracking. In a blog post about its update, Brave states that AMP not only is bad for privacy and security (since Google tracks your habits), it allows Google to control the web experience and may not actually improve page loads. DuckDuckGo had similar comments in a tweet.
If Google’s AMP implementation doesn’t bother you at all, you don’t really need to do anything. Google may serve up AMP pages when you use its search tool, and you can continue on as usual. But if you don’t want to peruse AMP pages, you can get control in a number of ways:
The Brave browser has its De-AMP feature available in its beta and nightly versions for the Mac and iOS. It will be available in the official release of the 1.38 version for the Mac, with the iOS version to follow.
The DuckDuckGo browser for iOS and the Mac Safari extensions include the option to not load a Google AMP page and load the original webpage.
If you want to stick to Safari on your iPhone or iPad, you can use extensions—Amplosion ($2.99) is one example—that automatically redirect from AMP pages to the original site.