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First look at Google Chrome

Posted on by Clive Walker in Google

I was a bit lukewarm about Google Chrome, the new browser from the Googleplex, when it was first announced. Another browser for testing websites. I have a few of those already on my system. However, with a heavy heart [just kidding], I downloaded it and my first impressions are pretty good.

It’s fast then?

Firstly, it does seem fast and I like the minimalist look and feel. It makes a change to not have much ‘clutter’ along the top of my browser window. The fade-in status bar at the bottom of the browser window is nice and combining the address bar and the search box is a good idea. Like Firefox 3, the address bar is ‘smarter’ than some other browsers.

All browsers have tabbed browsing [how did we cope without it?!] but in Google Chrome, opening a new tab gives you a series of thumbnails of previously visited websites. This was not something that I was looking forward to but it seems to work quite well. Not exactly a new idea though. It appears to be the same as Opera’s Speed Dial feature

Web + Desktop

Google Chrome is bundled with Google Gears. In simple terms, this will mean that you can put web applications like Google Mail on your desktop by Creating an Application Shortcut. Of course, you could do something similar already by just creating a standard shortcut to a website on your desktop. However, the way Google Chrome does it makes the shortcut seem more like a desktop application [it opens in a minimal window]. No prizes for guessing that Google wants more people to be using Google Docs and its other online applications so this is one way for Google to push that. Of course, there are lots of other non-Google applications that you could use this with as well!

Website testing

So far, in my rather limited testing, all my own websites seem to render perfectly fine. Since Google Chrome uses Webkit, which is the same rendering engine used by Safari, that’s pretty much what I expected [I already test with Safari]. I hope to test a few more JavaScript-intensive websites in the next few weeks.

Overall

I like Google Chrome but Firefox 3 is still my favourite browser. The wealth of extensions/add-ons for Firefox 3 make it a fantastic tool for the web designer/developer and I don’t see Chrome changing that just yet.

Finally, one important thing about Chrome is that it is more likely to open up the ‘non-Internet Explorer browser market’ to the general public than other browsers, simply because of Google’s all-powerful presence. I still find it surprising that many people do not know that there are other browsers apart from Internet Explorer but Chrome may change that. The web browser market seem to be developing into a more interesting arena than a few years back. In my opinion, that’s a good thing.

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Comments

  • 22 Sep 2008 16:38:19

    Chrome’s speed measurement on our product (http://www.taskwriter.com) proves Chrome to be faster than IE about 6 times and a little faster than Firefox 3.0. See the graphs: http://www.taskwriter.com/blog/how-good-chrome-really-is.

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