As announced in their blog yesterday, Google released its open source web browser today at 12pm PDT. It is called Google Chrome (Beta). It was built with the help of components from Apple’s WebKit and Mozilla’s Firefox, and some others. It is only currently available on Windows; though they are working on the Linux and Mac versions supposedly.
I took it for a quick test run earlier and I can say its fast and “minimal” as to what they say. Although most of the key features are already in Firefox, I do like the “crash control”. Here are the ones that have been highlighted:
- One box for everything — Web search. Web history. Address bar. Suggestions as you type. One unified box serves all your browsing needs.
- New tab page — Every time you open a new tab, you’ll see a visual sampling of your most visited sites, most used search engines, and recently bookmarked pages and closed tabs.
- Application shortcuts — Use web apps without opening your browser. Application shortcuts can directly load your favorite online apps.
- Dynamic tabs — You can drag tabs out of the browser to create new windows, gather multiple tabs into one window or arrange your tabs however you wish — quickly and easily.
- Crash control — Every tab you’re using is run independently in the browser, so if one app crashes it won’t take anything else down.
- Incognito mode — Don’t want pages you visit to show up in your web history? Choose incognito mode for private browsing.
- Safe browsing — Google Chrome warns you if you’re about to visit a suspected phishing, malware or otherwise unsafe website.
- Instant bookmarks — Want to bookmark a web page? Just click the star icon at the left edge of the address bar and you’re done.
- Importing settings — When you switch to Google Chrome, you can pick up where you left off with all the bookmarks and passwords from your existing browser.
- Simpler downloads — No intrusive download manager; you see your download’s status at the bottom of your current window.
So after giving it a spin, would I use it in my daily workflow? Not quite yet. As noted, it is still in Beta and only available to the Windows-user demographic. It will be interesting to see where it goes for sure, or how people react to it as it approaches more and more to mainstream. That, and how Google would market it with their other applications and services.
That being said, I overheard through the grapevine that Google’s intention for releasing this is due the fact that Mozilla Firefox makes 85% of its revenue through Google Search. It does makes sense though. Whether that is totally true or only partial, its still a good idea if that’s the case. Why make someone else money when you keep that money for yourself—right?
Another question that came to mind was: is it bad for everyone else, the everyday users? Not quite… yet. Unless everyone has been following Google’s blog, or are technically savvy and keep track of Tech news, the reach of Google Chrome’s release would most likely be by word of mouth between those in the Tech industry (for now). But when it does make its stake in the browser market share, it can be bad and good at the same time. Bad, that there will be another browser to add to the list to support and care for by websites. And good, that it can be the one true browser to rule them all1.
Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker.com recently released some Beta Browser Speed Tests earlier today comparing IE 8b2, Firefox 3.1b and Google Chrome 0.2. There are 3 important findings from his tests:
- In terms of startup time, Chrome wins. On a cold start2, Firefox leads the pack. However, on a warm start where the browser has just been closed and reloaded, Chrome surprisingly takes the decisive lead.
- Last but not least, with regards to memory use, Firefox is undoubtedly the winner. But this might be arguable as can be noted in Chrome’s feature set. That is, its ability of “crash control” which makes each tab load its own process, rather than a sole Chrome process like that of IE and Firefox.