Several days ago Amazon introduced Silk, a new web browser available on the just announced Kindle Fire (the new Android-based tablet sold by Amazon).
While web developers around the world aren’t exactly ecstatic about having to deal with yet another browser (it is a common practice to test websites’ compatibility in multiple browsers so this adds to the work we have to do). Nonetheless, I must admit that the new browser has one feature that is revolutionary and could really change the face of the mobile Web.
Silk has a different approach to browsing. It uses what’s called “Split Architecture”. What that means is that the execution of the browser’s subsystems (Networking, HTML, CSS, Rendering, etc.) are being split between the tablet and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. In simpler terms, some parts of the webpage are processed on the tablet, and some are processed in the cloud (on Amazon’s servers).
The result: faster browsing, less battery consumption and better security. All are critical for browsing mobile websites on a mobile device.
Amazon Silk effectively extends the boundaries of the browser and the mobile device by coupling the capabilities of the device in your hand with the massive computing power, memory, and network connectivity of their cloud. This feature alone makes the new browser unique and worth the hassle of dealing with. It will be interesting to see if other browsers will follow the suit, especially if Chrome OS will implement something similar in the future.