A metallic aftertaste
Posted by That Other Mike on 08/09/2008
Well, I’ve downloaded Google’s new browser, Chrome. As part of its quest for
world domination an ever larger share of internet viewers, Google has announced the beta release of Chrome.
The reason given for the development of Chrome was the changing nature of the internet – which is fair enough. The web has gone from text heavy to crude picture heavy through to dynamic content, such as Flash, YouTube and so on. Chrome was envisaged as a modern platform for this new internet.
It works, to a point. The features and look are taken piecemeal from various sources – the browser incorporates various stylistic pieces from Vista, Opera and so on. There are some useful things – if you don’t choose a home page, the browser loads your most often visited sites, a concept borrowed from Opera’s Speed Dial feature. It also shows your recent bookmarks, with a button on the page to show all of them in a drop down.
There is tabbed browsing, of course.
The interface is quite minimalist and stylish, in a kind of Apple through a blue filter way. There are no menus cluttering up the top, only two icons for drop down menus: one holds preferences for the particular page you’re on, the other for the browser itself.
There are only five buttons – back and forward, refresh, home and bookmark. One minor niggle is that there isn’t anything approaching the fast forward/rewind buttons of Opera, or the ability to choose which page to reverse or forward to, as in Mozilla. Hopefully something like this will be rectified or worked around in future releases.
Another small thing which irritated me a little was that there isn’t really anything to accommodate things like StumbleUpon, Digg and so on. You can create them as bookmarks, which will show in the optional bookmark toolbar, but there’s nothing like the StumbleUpon toolbar and there doesn’t appear to be even the option to add toolbars at this stage. This is puzzling in a browser which is aimed at users of Web 2.0, although hopefully this is simply down to its being beta.
Overall, it doesn’t seem to be a bad program so far. It has a number of features going for it which will make it popular among the webbish community: it is stripped down and clean in style, and will appeal on that front, as it looks pretty cool. It is also pretty fast to load pages, and apparently has built in security features, such as an option called Incognito, which autodeletes cookies and history every time the user closes the browser. It is also open source, which I think has practically every code geek in the world salivating; a Linux version is planned for the near future.
It won’t threaten IE any time soon amongst the general public, I think. It’s still a little too webby, a little too stripped down and missing some features which would make it more popular to the internet users who use the web primarily to shop or book holidays.
Myself, I’m not convinced by it just yet, not totally. It’s a little too beta for me right now, but I’d be happy to try it again in the near future when it’s been a little more developed. For now, though, I’ll stick with Firefox, if only for the functionality it has that Chrome currently lacks.