Google Chrome, Google’s newly announced and just released browser, has been available for download for about 20 minutes now so I assume you have gotten it and had a chance to play. If not I offer you my initial impressions on this new browser and how I think it might effect the browser landscape in the future.

Bookmarking is basically the same as it is in Firefox; you just click a small star icon and it is done. You can edit the bookmark for further control such as folder hierarchy. You can not, however, add tags to your bookmarks which, I suppose, will disappoint some people. I am a pretty avid bookmarker but I honestly don’t use the bookmarks themselves very often so I don’t really care much about bookmark management. I typically use to store my bookmarks so the one thing I am already missing in Chrome are extensions.

That’s right there are no extensions, at this time, in Chrome. It is possible that extensions will be in a future release - this is a first ever beta for the product after all - but the absence of extensions is glaring. I don’t use many extensions in my firefox install but those that I do use are fairly critical to my daily tasks. For instance I use the gmail manager extension so I don’t have gmail open all the time. Likewise I use the Google reader notifier extension. I already miss both of these in Chrome.

One thing I instantly noticed about Chrome though was it loads webpages fast. I know this is no scientific measurement but trust me it just loads them fast. For instance newsvine, which can often be sluggish for me in Firefox loaded with a nice peppy responsiveness in Chrome. Not only did it load fast but it works without a problem. No weird bugs have popped up, no strange rendering, it just works and it does it well. As far as clean and simple browsing goes Chrome seems to have it down.

One nice thing about not having extensions is I can focus just on what Chrome is doing. However, were Chrome to have extensions there is a cool feature called the Task Manager that lets you see what is going on in the browser. I think this would be a great addition to Firefox for helping users decide what plugins might be causing problems in their browser. A quick “shift+esc” is all it takes to load the task manager. The task manager also gives you the option to dig a little deeper into some memory usage reports which load up in a new tab within Chrome.

Like the memory report you can load your history and your download history into a new tab. Both are fully searchable. When you search your history you are not only shown a link to each matching entry but a thumbnail is loaded as well. I imagine the enhanced history view is thanks in no small part to the Google Gears backend that helps power Chrome. Gears provides a local database for data storage and indexing so it seems a natural fit.

The tabs’ show up a little different than in any other browser because they show up above the address bar. This is because each tab is really its own browser so you get all the controls with the tab. That means you can drag a tab out of the window and easily spawn a new window if you want. This is good because if one page starts to go haywire you can kill it without shutting down the whole browser. The negative is there is a slightly higher up front memory cost to using Chrome.

Text areas, such as the one where I write my my post, highlight spelling problems but there doesn’t seem to be a real spell checking correction tool in the right click menu. I really like that feature in firefox so I hope I am just missing it in Chrome and that it will appear shortly; I mean what good does it do for me to know a word is spelled wrong if the spell checker won’t offer some suggestions?

I’m going to try and stick with Chrome for the next week at least and see how it does. As much as I like the convenience of some of my firefox extensions I am more interested in stability and if Chrome turns out to be more stable than Firefox (which has had some problems for me) then I will probably switch for good (or until a better browser turns up).

Finally, I don’t think Google is really aiming for market share with Google Chrome. Sure, I think market share would be nice but I think, in truth, they are just looking for a more tenable position from which to lobby and petition for new features in future browsers and for new standards. By making this move they are hoping to spur innovation and technological capabilities in all browsers so that their online applications, such as Google Docs, can become even more powerful.

They have currently hit the apex of what can be accomplished within modern browsers considering their current limitations. However, if all browsers offer a standard local data storage mechanism, improved javascript processing, and “garbage handling” then Google can look toward building even more compelling online applications. In the end Google doesn’t care if you use their applications with IE, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome - they just want you to use their applications. By improving the platform those applications are delivered on they can then add more value to their applications and thus convert users into loyal ones.



I think I must have just been blind yesterday because today I am seeing the alternate spelling suggestions.


Quote: “Text areas, such as the one where I write my my post, highlight spelling problems but there doesn’t seem to be a real spell checking correction tool in the right click menu.”

In this build of Chrome that I am using, the right-click do suggest correction words. But I am still going back to Firefox, because there seems to be no way to easily change the language setting. One has to go through page options, and then a restart. And for me, that participate in forums using 3 different languages that is just too much.