September 4, 2008

Google Releases Chrome Browser

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Just yesterday, the public beta of Google’s first web browser made it online . I’ve been using it as my default browser for a day now, and I love it. The download is less than 500KB. This browser is very lightweight, fast and efficient, but packs many new features (all detailed in the online comic). Chrome’s interface is very clean and minimalistic, yielding a very high amount of screen real-estate to the actual page it’s displaying. [img_assist|nid=31400|title=Google’s new Chrome browser.|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]There are no frames in the window, so pages actually extend side-to-side all the way to the last pixel. Tabs, which are now analogous to windows, are isolated from each other in process and memory. This sounds like a good idea, though it had very little impact on me since I’ve very rarely had more than a few tabs open or had one of them crash on me. But there’s also the new home page (a.k.a. new tab page), which shows you some snapshots of your most recent and most often visited pages, and also lets you search through your entire history. Then there’s the address bar and the way it remembers addresses: by domain or index page first so that a more sensible page is suggested for you to start browsing a site. Chrome also includes a highly-optimized JavaScript virtual machine (a separate project) which is supposed to improve JS performance many times over. I haven’t had a chance to test this, but seeing how fast the browser works in general, I’d be very surprised if Google allowed JS to bog down its new browser.

Chrome aced the Acid2 test and passed the Acid3 test with a 78 percent (mildly disappointing given my expectations). It’s still in beta stage and some sites don’t work. For example, Facebook’s interface is broken, possibly due to a Flash problem. So make sure to keep Firefox around to handle those slightly more fickle pages.