Kindle Fire, Amazon’s new e-book reader Tablet comes with a number of innovations, one of which includes the radically rethink browser called the Silk browser that largely relies on the Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud).
The mechanism on which the Silk browser works is rather complicated, but here I have tried to elaborate the working in a much simpler way.
How does the Silk Browser work?
Browsing on a mobile device may be confronted to several challenges owing to limited system resources of a mobile device. Consider, today the web pages are much more complex and often may require to load files from several domains. As a consequence, mobile devices have to send multiple files (query and their responses) to and from these disparate servers to finally render the web page you have requested. This simply calls for a much larger cache to store this information.
Silk, on the other hand, uses split-browser architecture to render a web page. Suppose you have requested a web page via an ordinary web browser, what happens?
You first send in a connection request to the domain server. Once you are granted the permission to ‘get it’ all the data and information is passed preceding the download of web page to your device.
Now what does Silk do?
The Silk Browser (and infact your device) is always connected to the back end of the Amazon cloud. Yes, instead of connecting to the web-server, Silk connects to the Amazon cloud, perhaps the connection is there, always there. This simply means that you do not need the TCP requests and the information can instantly flow, rather than waiting for connection to be established first.
You are connected (in fact always connected) to the Amazon cloud and the Cloud itself keeps a back end connection open to mostly accessed website, almost always.
All that simply means that this mechanism cuts down the total TCP requests needed.
Once you request a page, the Silk browser analyses the page instantly decides on how to split the labour of rendering the web page between the cloud and itself on Fire.
Now the Amazon’s immensely powerful servers download and process the Web page you have requested on your behalf, in fraction of seconds. The images are compressed, files from multiples servers are loaded, scripts are analyzed etc. etc. And finally your web page is rendered in the cloud in a time less than a millisecond. At last the results are pushed to your screen! You see how your computational power has multiplied and you can benefit from the powerful servers where your mobile device has a mere 8Gb space and modest processor for all that processing and storage?
All this for a layman, means much faster download speeds and magically accelerated browsing!
The Security Issues!
But behind this awe-inspiring story of faster browsing there lie some serious security concerns. Let’s have a closer look.
Amazon With its Silk browser is decently performing a man-in-the-middle attack on the web-surfers.
Consider for instance, I am sure you might have guessed your banking website. If you access the website from an ordinary browser a SSL connection is established, now that you are using Silk, a secure connection will be established from the Cloud to the website. Now all the credentials shall pass through the Amazon cloud and then your bank. That will surely be alarming for any sane person.
You are being watched!
Silk also uses an intelligent system to predict what web page you would request after visiting one. This is possible after analyzing the history and patterns of your browsing. Your entire browsing log along with your IP address and MAC addresses are saved on large Amazon cloud servers for 30 days. If you had been conscious about Facebook keeping tracks of your Likes and Google keeping record of your searches, Silk is just another in the same business.
The New York Times highlights, “longer term, Silk will monitor consumer behaviour, and Amazon’s machines will predict from past behaviour where a customer is likely to go next.”
Think, Amazon can look in your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter!
You cant clear cache!
When surfing the web the Web browser builds a cache on your computer that of course you can delete when needed. Silk also caches some parts of websites you visit on Silk’s servers. Therefore history of your activity on web is always stored on the cloud.
Other drawback of the optimized browsing includes the compulsion of viewing a compressed image. As most processing is done in the cloud- the images are usually compressed before sending to your Fire. Now there are many a time when you want to view a reasonable image.
Luckily you can turn off the cloud option in the Silk browser and reduce it to any ordinary browser, nevertheless this shall result in much laggy browsing and consumption of system resources in turn reducing the battery life of the Tablet.
Tags: Kindle Fire