Surprisingly, some of the best browser extensions are the most simplest. This is the case with FlagFox — one of our Best Of Firefox Addons — and Flag for Chrome. Both extensions display the national flag of a website’s server location in the URL bar of their respective browser.
This little flag isn’t just cool to show off, but it can also serve some interesting purposes, for example it can let you know which country a server is located in (especially when the server location doesn’t match the top-level domain like .co.uk, .de, etc.), help you troubleshoot why a certain connection may be acting slow, or help you identify when you’ve accidentally landed on a phishing website. Say you try to visit your bank’s website which usually shows your country’s flag, but suddenly you see a completely different flag. The chances that you’ve landed on a phishing site are very high. The flag shown by the extension also serves as a reminder of where our data goes — you practically visit the world through your browsing habits!
Sometimes, choosing between Firefox and Chrome comes down to which ecosystem allows you to make the most of your browser, and extensions are a key part of the experience. Let’s see which camp scores more points in this comparison!
FlagFox is actually quite simple. Besides displaying a flag, the only other thing you can do to interact with it is to click on it. Clicking on the flag once will open up a new tab which displays a lot of technical data about the server you’re connected to.
These data include the location (even the latitude and longitude), the IP address, the ISP or web hosting provider, and even the postal code. Above all of this information is a map which points to the latitude and longitude which the extension found via its GeoIP framework.
Double clicking on the flag, however, opens up a new page that contains Web of Trust’s ratings on the website in question. You’ll discover that this functionality is set in the settings, where you can enable a lot of other features such as Wolfram Alpha, XMarks, TinyURL, bit.ly, and Is Down or Just Me, and invoke them via various actions. FlagFox doesn’t seem to do a whole lot at first, but it suddenly becomes a lot more flexible once you take a look in its settings.
Flag for Chrome, on the other hand, works a tad bit differently. Besides displaying a flag, you can interact with it by clicking on the flag as well. However, instead of opening a new tab with a handful of information, Flag for Chrome opens up a pop-up that provides the website’s IP address, location, Google PageRank data, Alexa page rank, links to McAfee Site Advisor and Google Trends, and information presented by Web of Trust. Additionally, most of these categories have links which you can click on to get even further information. For example, you can click on the city to see where it’s located on Google Maps, clicking on WOT will send you to Web of Trust’s full page over the website, and so forth.
In Flag for Chrome’s settings, there isn’t a lot that you can change, but you can choose to remove some of the categories of information that the extension displays by default in its pop-up.
There is one downside to Flag for Chrome, sadly, that makes its lead on features useless — it doesn’t always appear. For whatever reason, it worked well for the first few websites which I visited after installing the extension, but upon visiting those sites again, the extension disappears. I’m not sure why it does this, and I hope it’s just a bug, but it still does this nevertheless.
So in the end, who wins? FlagFox, because it generally contains more features than Flag for Chrome due to the various services it can use, and the fact that it seems to work every time on every webpage. As it performs well, offers lots of features, and works reliably, there’s not really much else you could ask for. And if you need a reason to use Firefox besides FlagFox, you may also be interested in knowing that Firefox has made quite a comeback against Chrome.
If you’d still prefer to use Chrome, maybe using IP Whois & Flags Chrome & Norton Antivirus may be an alternative for you.
Which browser are you using now and what are your favorite extensions on it? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: Flags by Martin Pilát