Government must ensure digital services work on Samsung Internet

GDS adds technology to list of browsers on which services must be tested

Credit: GOV.UK

The Government Digital Service has added Samsung Internet to its list of browsers on which public sector users should test their digital services for compliance.

The software – which is the default internet browser for Samsung devices – now has a 2.71% share of the UK browser market, according to data from StatCounter. GDS revealed that it accounts for an even bigger share of traffic on GOV.UK – 3.2%. This adds up to about 466,000 users per week.

Samsung Internet is built on the same Chromium open-source code as the Google Chrome browser. But the two technologies are beginning to diverge, and will continue to do so, according to GDS.

The Google Analytics platform treated the two browsers as one and the same until about six months ago, but now differentiates between them. GDS has decided to do the same, and Samsung Internet is now one of 12 browsers on which government digital services must be tested for compliance, as part the government’s Digital Service Standard.

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“Some functional differences between the two browsers (Chrome and Samsung Internet) are already apparent and web developers will need to consider slight differences in CSS, JavaScript, and interface features when building for this browser mix,” GDS said. “In the future, there may be a fundamental difference in how pages render or function on Samsung Internet and Chrome for Android. That’s why we think testing this new, popular browser is important.”

GDS defines compliance as a service that not only functions flawlessly, but “must look as good as it does in other modern browsers”.

Having now been defined separately from Chrome, Samsung Internet becomes the second Android-based browser on which public sector digital services must achieve compliance. 

For devices that run on Windows, services must be tested for compliance with Internet Explorer 11, and the latest versions of Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Services are also expected to be “functional” on the prior three iterations of Internet Explorer, although it is acceptable if they do not look perfect on these older versions.

For Windows Phone devices, digital services must work on the latest version of Internet Explorer, while iOS phones and tablets require compliance with Chrome and Safari for iOS 9.3+. On macOS, services must comply with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari 9+.

“Diversity in the browser market is great for users,” GDS added. “Competition between browsers helps to stimulate development of the web, as browsers are iterated to become faster, more secure and easier to use. We’ll keep monitoring use data to make sure GOV.UK keeps pace with the evolving browser space.”


Sam Trendall

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