02 September 2008

Google Chrome

I am typing this from Google Chrome, the new web browser that was announced yesterday (after news of it were accidentally leaked) and released about two hours ago.  It is blazingly fast!  And even without maximizing the browser window, there is so much screen area for viewing the web pages, due to the minimal space used by the tab bar and the "omnibox" (a combined address and search bar) -- and there's no menu bar or status bar to clutter your view.  You can drag tabs out of the browser window to view the web page in a separate window -- now that's something I'd like to see in Firefox!  Although only a beta release, it appears that the Google Chrome team has already fulfill their goal of creating a fast, responsive and simple-to-use Web browser.

Each browser tab in Google Chrome runs in its own process, and the implications of this is huge.  It means that it's easy to isolate which web pages are using up excessive memory and CPU cycles (there is a task manager that lets you see performance stats on all open browser tabs), putting the onus squarely on the web developer to make their web pages more leaner and efficient.  And from a stabililty standpoint, if a misbehaving web page crashes a browser tab, it won't take down the whole application with it.

There's lots more to it about Google Chrome: a new and powerful JavaScript engine, V8; anti-phishing and anti-malware protection; a special "Incognito" privacy mode where you can view a web site in a separate tab that won't record any cookies or add to your browsing history; all browser tabs operate in a "sandbox" security model; built-in Google Gears; ability to create shortcuts to web apps like Gmail so that they can be launched in their own windows, mimicking desktop apps; and of course, support for web standards, made possible by WebKit, the same rendering engine used in Safari.  Basic features like searching, bookmarking, text zoom, download manager, etc. are all there, as one would expect in any modern web browser.

Screen shot of Google Chrome

Check out the incredibly cool comic book, with characters resembling the members of the development team explaining Google Chrome and all of its features in depth.  The beta release, initially for Windows only, is now available for download.  

There are a few missing features that, I think, needs to be added, like spell checking in web page form fields, and print preview -- but overall, the quality of the product is surprisingly high for such an early beta release.


David Gerard said...

"We are so, so happy with Google Chrome," mumbled Mozilla CEO John Lilly through gritted teeth. "That most of our income is from Google has no bearing on me making this statement." - http://notnews.today.com/?p=57

Patrick Roberts said...

looking forward to Chrome for efficiency's sake... Google tends to roll out really well-tested software, so it shouldn't be half bad in any case