Orion
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Orion's goal?

We want Orion to be the best browser for Apple devices.



What is Orion's design philosophy?

Orion is fast, privacy-respecting and open to the web, standards and protocols. If you want a browser that just works, is lightning fast, respects your privacy, stays out of your way and lets you get the job done, Orion makes it possible. It is a browser built for professionals, by professionals. It is also that one browser that you install for your grandma and the web would just work for her, on default settings. Enjoy the web grandma!



What is Orion based on?

Orion's rendering engine is WebKit and Orion shares much of the same technology used in Apple's Safari. This means Orion inherits all performance and privacy features that Apple (and other contributors) built into WebKit. We'd like to extend our gratitude to them.



Why use Orion instead of Safari?

Let us first acknowledge all the efforts Apple put into making Safari great, truly one of the best browsers you could use on macOS. We are basing Orion on the same tech stack that Safari is using and then going above and beyond.

Safari features are great to begin with, but they also leave a lot to be desired. Whether a built-in ad-blocker or productivity enhancements, with Orion we are able to provide the users with exactly what they need.

If you thought Safari is fast, wait until you experience Orion. Orion is simply the fastest browser on Mac. We took the same WebKit core web engine (also used by Safari) and built a snappy, lightweight browser around it.

Orion is fast

Orion is also a truly zero telemetry browser, with a built-in poweful ad and tracker blocker. Orion has the highest possible protection for your privacy on the web, by default.

And finally, extensions! Orion has native support for both Chrome and Firefox extensions. This means that Orion users will have access to unprecedented number of extensions, basically making it the largest browser extensions ecosystem in the world. With Orion you will be able to one-click install all your favorite extensions directly from the web. This makes for a huge difference in what you can do on the web compared to Safari.



Why use Orion instead of Chrome, Firefox or other browsers based on Chromium/Firefox?

Orion has superior performance, memory use and battery efficiency compared to any non-WebKit browser.

Orion is fast

Orion is also the first browser to have zero telemetry policy, meaning it does not "phone home" any data. It also comes with a native blocker that blocks ads and trackers by default, ensuring websites are respecting the privacy of the Orion user.

Orion is, like Safari, built as a native Mac app. It uses native macOS components to ensure speed, familiar design, look & feel of a Mac app and the deep integration with native system technologies.

Finally, Orion takes its users very seriously. We go as far as not having any telemetry, meaning we design the product based only on what the users tell us. We are all ears and we are doing this together. Zero telemetry, powered by users!



How fast is Orion?

Orion is as fast or faster than Safari, because both use the same underlying rendering engine - WebKit.

Orion is much faster than browsers using non-WebKit browser rendering engines like Firefox, Chrome and Chrome clones (Edge, Brave, Opera...).
Orion is
                        faster On top of this, the native built-in ad-blocker makes Orion simply unrivaled in browsing speed.

Orion is perfect
And thanks to thoughtful optimizations, Orion feels much faster and more responsive than Safari on slow and old Macs.



How much memory does Orion use?

Orion is a lightweight browser with advanced memory use optimizations. From single tab optimizations to pinned tab management, our goal is to minimize Orion's memory footprint.

Orion low memory
            use

And if you are a power user, you will be glad to hear that we take great pride in the fact that Orion also has the best memory management of all contemporary browsers for closed tabs. On default settings, Orion will consume 2x-3x less memory compared to mainstream browsers after closing tabs.

Orion low memory
            use



How does Orion respect my privacy?

Orion does not ‘phone home’ - that is, Orion does not have any built-in telemetry running out of the box. Zero. None. Orion is truly and verifiably a privacy-respecting browser. This is practically unheard of in the modern browser world as most offer some 'illusion' of privacy.

Most browsers periodically send requests "home" (some of them hundreds). All these requests are still a potential privacy issue as no matter what information is being sent, with each request sent "home" your IP address (and thus potentially your location) is leaked as well as potentially your browser fingerprint. Telemetry can also inadvertently expose other PII (personally identifiable information) or corporate intelligence.

The only way you can be sure that your privacy is truly respected, whether you are a consumer or an enterprise, is if the browser has zero telemetry out of the box.

Orion
            zero phone home policy

Use Orion and welcome to the world with zero browser telemetry. Orion makes it possible!



How does Orion help protect my privacy on the web?

Orion comes with the state-of-the-art native ad and tracker blocker that blocks first-party and third-party scripts and requests by default. Orion uncompromisingly blocks all trackers by default. To do this we combine WebKit's Intelligent Tracking Protection and "Easy Privacy" list, providing double protection.

Ads on web pages have made consumption of content unbearable, are insulting the intelligence of users and in some cases source of malware. Yet 99% of browsers do not block ads by default. We can not ignore that!

Orion uncompromisingly blocks all ads out of the box.

To do this we are using WebKit's native content blocking functionality (to ensure maximum speed and minimum impact to page rendering latency) and an optimized content blocking database. Orion's native ad-blocking successfully blocks 99.9% of all ads, including YouTube ads, both on desktop and mobile.



How does Orion support Web Extensions?

Early in development we made a (faithful) decision to natively support the Web Extensions API. This is the same API shared by browsers like Chrome and Firefox and what makes their extension eco-system so powerful. We believe that users who want to use WebKit on macOS should also be able to tap into this same eco-system. So we decided to build it, painstakingly porting hundreds of APIs that were never meant to work with WebKit, one by one. Took us a few years but here we are!

At this time Orion supports about 70% of Web Extensions APIs and we are adding more with each day.

On top of that, we built advanced security features that allow you to control what each extension can do, giving the user granular control that goes beyond what Chrome and Firefox offer. For example, you can chose to allow a web extension to run only on certain websites.



Wait, are you saying I can run uBlock Origin and other Chrome/Firefox extensions in Orion?!

Yes! Crying when you experience this for the first time is optional.

Orion Extensions



How does Orion handle uBlock Origin in tandem with its native content blocker? What should I use?

Orion's built-in content blocker is about 90% as efficient as uBlock Origin while being 3x faster (as it uses WebKit's native content blocking feature). We designed it to be a great choice for most users and if it works well for websites you visit, there is no need to install uBlock Origin.

For power users who require the extra mile provided by uBlock Origin, we recommend disabling Orion's content blocker globally (in Preferences->Website Settings->Content Blocker) as the two will be trying to do the same thing. We also recommend leaving Orion's tracking protection on, because this uses WebKit's built-in ITP (very fast, machine-learning based tracking prevention) as it complements uBlock Origin to provide the best tracking protection.



I found that the "1Password (requires the desktop application)" extension does not autofill properly. What can I do?

Technically the issue is not on our end. You can email support@1password.com and request them to support Orion browser with their desktop app. If enough paying customers request it, they are likely to support Orion.

In the meantime, you can still use 1Password by installing their web extension.



Should I use Chrome or Firefox version of the extension in Orion?

Orion supports both Chrome and Firefox extensions. Usually they are very similar, but sometimes the extension developer might have put extra effort in one of the versions, for example because they prefer one browser over the other.

Take advantage of the fact that you can try both and use the one that works better for you. Orion is the only browser in the world that makes it possible!



Help! A site is not working!

Orion features the "Compatibility mode", found under website settings icon in your toolbar. Turning it on will do several things like disable your currently running extensions (which are the most common cause of problems) and remember the setting for this website so it works when you visit it in the future.

If the site still does not work, you may want to test the site in Safari (because it uses the same web rendering engine - WebKit) and if it works there, please report the problem to us via our beta discord.



Does Orion have unique features?

Yes! This is one of the reasons we started building it in the first place. There are so many untapped opportunities for innovation in modern browsers. We are very excited to have a platform to build upon now. Here are just a few examples of what we already included.

Focus Mode allows the user to completely remove toolbars. Browse the web distraction-free!

Orion's Low Power Mode is similar to native iOS feature on phones and extends battery life on your laptop by reducing browser's power consumption up to 90%.

Orion also features native Vertical Tree-style Tabs if you prefer your tabs this way.

And there is much more...



Why is no search engine set by default in Orion?

As a browser committed to respecting your privacy, we decided not to set any search engine by default. Otherwise, the moment you start typing in location bar, we would have to leak your IP address and browser fingerprint to the search engine to get suggestions.

Instead, Orion will ask you to set your favorite search engine on your first use of the location bar.



Can I transfer my Safari passwords to Orion?

Yes, Orion will import your Safari passwords (Safari 15 required). Safari 15 ships with Monterey but you can also get this feature on Big Sur through Safari Technology Preview. Once you have Safari 15, you will be able to export passwords and import them into Orion. To make the transition to Orion as comfortable as possible, Orion can also import your Safari open tabs and even cookies.



What macOS versions are supported by Orion?

We currently support macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11 and 12. We plan to add support for 10.13 in the future. Intel and Arm64 optimizations are automatically applied on your first run of Orion.



Does Orion have a mobile app?

Yes, Orion iOS app is also in beta. You can sign up by following a link in #welcome channel on our beta discord. iPadOS app is coming soon.



Will Orion for iOS also support web extensions?

Yes, we have preliminary support for some web extensions on iOS.



Wait, are you sure? No browser on iOS can use Chrome/Firefox extensions!

Orion makes it possible. Remember when we told you that we painstakingly ported hundreds of web extension APIs to run on top of WebKit? That same WebKit runs on your iOS.

However, unlike on desktop, Apple does not let us modify it, so we are limited in the scope of web extension APIs we can support, but those extensions that work (which is a very limited number right now), work out of the box, same as on desktop. And you can one click install them from Chrome or Firefox websites.

Here is a screenshot of "Dark Reader" (a popular web extension) running in Orion on iOS.

Orion iOS Extensions



Is Orion open-source?

Not yet, but we plan for it to be when we are ready to receive the benefits of open-sourcing Orion. Creating something as big and ambitious as Orion (which includes forking WebKit, porting entire WebExtensions API and writing a browser from scratch) is challenging enough for a small team like ours. We can not afford any other overhead - and properly maintaining an open source project takes time and resources. If you want to contribute, the best way to do that is to become a beta tester.



How can I trust my private information with Orion if it is not open-source?

"Open-source is trustworthy" is a common misconception when your private information is in question. For example, right now there is a major tech company, whose browser is open-source, and yet the same company has created the largest ad/tracking network in the history, with this same browser playing a significant role in it. Another major tech company, whose browser is closed-source (and using WebKit like Orion) is on the forefront of the privacy-aware practices and technologies in its products. This means that in practice there is no correlation between product being open or closed source and it respecting your privacy (rather, this correlation may actually be inverse).

If you want to know if you can trust a browser company with your data, you should ask these two basic questions:
  1. Does this browser collect and send data anywhere?
  2. How does this browser make money?
Even if the browser is fully open source, what is done with your data on their servers (the part that really matters) is always closed-source. For example, most modern browsers (excluding Orion) send hundreds of requests 'home'. Each of those requests contain private information like IP address and your browser fingerprint, in addition to any other data they send. No browser vendor has open-sourced the code that processes this collected data.

The only way to truly know that the browser is unquestionably privacy-respecting, is if it sends zero requests anywhere, like Orion. This can be verified by launching a network proxy (Charles and Little Snitch are good options on macOS) and checking if your browser is sending information anywhere. With Orion, there will be zero unexpected requests in your network traffic log by default. This is because Orion is truly a zero telemetry browser, meaning it doesn't collect or send any data from the user, anywhere, by default.

Business model is the second major factor as it defines incentives. Browser companies producing popular, free, open-source browsers also 'magically' make millions and even billions dollars in revenue. How does that happen? Understanding browsers' role in that chain of revenue will help you understand if that browser can really be trusted with your private information.

With Orion, you are using a browser that is zero telemetry and thus verifiably 100% privacy-respecting, does everything to protect your privacy on the web by default and has a business model that aligns our interest with yours, never needing or collecting your private information.



How will Orion make money?

We will either make Orion paid (remember how we used to pay for software products, even beta versions of anticipated products ) ; or Orion will be free with a paid version offering advanced features; or Orion will be free but a part of another premium product that we are making.

In any case, one thing is clear: All funding for Orion will come from its own success as a product. We are not building Orion to be just another browser for Mac, we are building it to be the browser for Mac. The one every power user would want to use. And the one that you install for your grandma because the web will just work.

We have no interest in making a popular browser and monetizing it with any form of ads, tracking or data monetization. That is not why we started this project for, nor is something we would ever consider falling back to. The purpose of Orion is to be a product you will love and appreciate for the superior product experience, unmatched features set, engineering craftsmanship and attention to detail. If Orion can not deliver on that promise or sustain its own development for what ever insurmountable reason, it will be the end of it.

Orion is
           great



Why does Orion look very similar to Safari (and not Chrome or Firefox)?

We see Safari as the "reference" implementation of the browser on macOS, by the OS manufacturer (Apple). This ensures that the browser follows best practices in terms of design, engineering, interactions, native controls, OS integrations etc. and we want to build upon the same base, respecting these decisions made by Apple. This is why Orion feels familiar and blends well in your macOS environment.



What does "Orion is open to web, standards and protocols" mean?

We are thinking about the web browser in the context of being your 'user agent'. Therefore, browser's job is to make the web accessible to you (in any way you wish to consume it) and it should be as unobtrusive and as capable as possible in the process. The focus of the experience is always on the user and their needs, as we understand that you want to use the web, not the browser.

For example, web is a collection of different protocols, not just 'http' and 'https'. We want to support as many as we can, including FTP which is being phased out in many browsers or the new Gemini protocol.

Simply put, we believe that the browser should remove all the obstacles for the user in accessing the web in any way that works the best for them.



Any pro tips for Orion users?

In addition to ad and tracker blocking, blocking web fonts is an effective strategy on news sites. Not only sites will load faster, use less bandwidth, but will often look more readable too!

Blocking web fonts
In addition, if you are not required to log in, disabling cookies is a great complementary strategy, which further increases speed and privacy.

Blocking web fonts
The effect of this can be profound. On cnn.com average page size went down from ~7MB to ~2MB (most of what is left are images), eliminating ~5MB of unnecessary bloat or over 70% of all data being transferred. You will certainly notice that! The extra speed and data savings will be even more noticeable when using Orion on your mobile device.

Do this across a couple of sites you frequent, and enjoy the fast web.



What are some of the known issues?

As with any beta product, there are a number of issues that we are working on to fix. We are listing just the biggest:

  • - Browser can feel unresponsive with large number of tabs. Resource usage needs to be further optimized for this scenario.
  • - Some animations may feel janky. We need to polish them.
  • - Some extensions may not work as expected, breaking sites or even the browser itself. Extension support is still experimental and not complete.
  • - A lot of features that you are used to in browsers are not there yet. We'll get there and your feedback helps us prioritize.
  • - Currently we are tracking around 200 reported bugs. We'll fix them all, we just ask for your patience.

You can help by submitting bug reports and being vocal about features you want on our beta Discord.



Are you hiring?

Yes. You think you can build a browser for Mac? Game on. Requirements are advanced Swift and Javascript knowledge, while C++ experience (for WebKit) is a bonus. Remote is OK. Work experience and education is secondary - but you need to know how to solve difficult problems and code exceptionally well (we will send a test project). Send your CV to vprelovac@kagi.com.



About

Orion is created by Vladimir Prelovac, a tech entrepreneur with a track record of executing ambitious ideas that go beyond conventional wisdom. Orion was created in 2019, is bootstrapped by the founder and is being built by a world-wide passionate team.

We are also building a privacy-respecting alternative to Google search, currently in private beta.

If you'd like to know more or get involved, please feel welcome to reach out to vprelovac@kagi.com.



© 2021 Kagi - Better Web for our Children. All Rights Reserved. WebKit and the WebKit logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.