Google Chrome brings new shine to browser market

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Google ChromeIt's no secret that near everything Google touches turns to gold, but as of yesterday the company has plans to embed an entirely different metal on your desktop – Chrome.

Google Chrome is a new Internet browser that has been designed from the ground up to simplify the user interface and, perhaps more importantly, streamline and speed-up the multitude of processing that happens behind the scenes when you visit a Web site.

As would be expected from a modern browser, all the bits we're used to are there – tabbed browsing, bookmarks, a bookmark bar. However, unlike Firefox and the more recent versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome's tabs operate in isolated “sandboxes”.

Google ChromeThese “sandboxes” prevent one tab from bringing the whole browser down, and provide improved protection from malicious sites by using some intelligent access control.

The most exciting and lauded feature of Chrome though is a bit that most users have likely never considered and will likely never actively notice – Chrome utilizes the most powerful JavaScript engine to date, V8, making it geared to process not just modern Web apps, but the stuff that's yet to come.

Developers Note

Web designers and developers will be happy to note that Chrome isn't a whole new game when it comes to browser compatibility. Chrome uses Apple's Webkit rendering engine, so if your design worked in Safari, it'll look smashing in Chrome.

Additionally, Chrome comes standard with a decent element inspector. It's not Firebug, but it does a a pretty decent job out of the box.

I know, I know – I love Firefox too, and though Firefox 3 has brought with it a lot of improvements, my money's on Chrome becoming the defacto browser of choice among average users and net junkies alike.

My reasoning is thus – Google's damn smart. I mean, they're really smart. This is the company that not only indexes the entire Internet, but they've also mapped virtually the entire planet. Mozilla, while cool, is going to have a tough time competing with that – and Microsoft Internet Explorer? Well, about the ONLY thing that browser has going for it is a monopolisitic entrenchment that survives on user apathy.

Plus, unlike IE but much like Firefox, it is completely open-source, which means people are welcome, – encouraged even, to take the code and improve it – without a doubt the reason why Firefox and Mozilla rock.

I've been using Chrome all day and, if you haven't guessed, absolutely love it. Here are the few things I like:

  • Slick tab addition and deletion – adding tabs in any other browser is going to feel clunky and brash after you've used Chrome.
  • Tab pull-outs – you can easily pull off your tab, making it a new window, and vice versa, you can slap an independent browser window into a tab.
  • New tab quick links – rather than have a blank screen greeting you when you open a new tab, Google Chrome displays a collection of screenshots of sites you frequently visit, rightly assuming you're likely to be going to one of them.
  • Omnibox Address/Search bar – the “Omnibox” is Google Chrome's intelligent address bar. It allows you to input an address or a search term (your choice of search engine) and offers smart auto-complete.
  • Pop-up control – all pop-ups are “blocked” by default, with a notice allowing you to open them or not.
  • Incognito window – If you're looking for a bit of browsing privacy, Chrome allows you to easily open up an “Incognito tab” which isn't recorded in the browsers history – you know, for when you are looking at porn buying your wife a surprise gift.

However, not everything is yet perfect in Chromeville. The biggest downside Google will need to combat if they want to sway the relatively newborn masses of Firefox users is the absense of extensions/add-ons. There is currently no ability to add extensions (outside of plugins like Flash, Java, etc.), so if you are stuck on some Firefox add-ons, you'll need to be patient and see if abilities are added after the browser comes out of beta.

And yeah, it's beta – so it's still technically being tested. As mentioned, I've been running it all day without a glitch, but fellow Twitterholics have reported some problems – whether they're Chrome related or system related is unknown.

Additionally, Google Chrome is not yet available for Mac or Linux users – for the time being it is strictly Windows-based. However, I'm certain we can expect Mac and Linux versions in the near future.

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper into how Chrome works and why it's being touted as “a revolutionary new browser”, check out this easy to follow comic. You can download and try Chrome for yourself without uninstalling your current browser(s). Oh, and be sure to check out Matt Cutts' answers to common Google Chrome objections.

Let us know what you think.
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