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The Google Chrome web browser launched yesterday almost 24-hours after Google announced that it would be coming. That gave quite a few media sites enough time to built up hype for the upcoming release, but the question is whether Google was able to deliver the first time around.

I tried out Google Chrome, and they definitely deserve credit for the simplicity they’ve built-in to the application. Here are some of the features that I really like in the browser:

  • Google Gears is included making it easy to take some websites offline.
  • You can monitor performance and memory usage for individual tabs.
  • The new tab page is nice since it shows you recently visited and recently closed tabs.
  • The 404 “page not found” error will give you site recommendations and also provide a search box to find what you’re looking for.
  • You can open up an “incognito window” that won’t store cookies, history, and other data that the browser normally keeps track of.
  • Performance is great. Pages load noticeably faster than other browsers, and it blows away many the competition in the JavaScript Sunspider test. Although Mozilla is saying that Firefox 3.1 will be better than Google Chrome in that respect.

It all sounds great, but there are some things holding me back from jumping on the Google Chrome bandwagon:

  • Security flaws are in every browser, but there will likely be quite a few discovered in Google Chrome considering how new it is. It didn’t take long for the first vulnerability to be found, but in Google’s defense it is associated with Webkit. Apple has already released a patch for the vulnerability, but Google is using a slightly older version of Webkit that doesn’t have it included. I think I’ll wait to see how fast Google reacts to some of the security issues.
  • Gizmodo noticed that in the terms Google is essentially saying that they have a non-exclusive license to everything you publish or create using Google Chrome: “By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” Yikes!
  • I just can’t live without a few of my Firefox extensions. I know I’m a little bit partial, but the CyberSearch extension is something that has given my productivity a huge boost.

In the end I think Google did a good job engineering the browser. It didn’t leave me awe-struck like I would have hoped, but it’s not bad for a first release. It rolls up some of the best features of the various browsers into one convenient package, but it lacks the innovation that I’d expect from Google. It will be a good fit for some people, but I’ll be sticking with Firefox myself. Now that you’ve had a day to sit on it what do you think?

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There Are 40 Comments

  1. Google Chrome is ‘almost’ exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m a heavy user of Google apps, so this appeals to me. Before, I was opening a new window in Firefox with Gmail, Gcal, Docs, Maps, GReader, Picasa Web Albums, Notebook, News, and Google Translate.
    While hiding the navigation bar and used in conjunction with TrayDevil it suited my needs perfectly. Until I closed Firefox….then I had to redo the whole procedure.

    Now using Chrome I have it automatically set to open the Google apps I use, and then I shrink it to the tray using TrayDevil. And I’m free to use Firefox as I normally would…..testing add-ons and otherwise beating the heck out of it! If Chrome could include alerts in the next version then it’s a keeper for me.

  2. Trip wrote:
    If Chrome could include alerts in the next version then it’s a keeper for me.

    Now there’s a genuinely good idea! They should actually develop a universal alert system that any website could take advantage of. Of course a user would be able to blacklist sites that they don’t want to see alerts from, but overall this could be very handy.

  3. I didn’t use it too much as I don’t use my Win XP box as much and don’t boot into my Win XP partition at all. But I did use it for a good half an hour and it was ok, it’s fast but ok. I don’t care too much for the UI and I prefer the UI of FF 3.0 and IE 8 B2. Other than that, I think Google has done pretty good job with it, will it replace FF 3 for me, no way. I like the way FF 3 integrates itself into the OS weather it be on my Ubunut or Kubunut or Win XP machines.

  4. After using it for a day, I’m afraid I’ll stick with my ole Flock Social Web browser. It has many social networks embedded, that I need in order to fulfill my blogging needs. Customization is another feature that Chrome doesn’t have.

    Chrome is minimalist, cool and fast but….no thanks!

  5. I like it alot.

    I am a Firefox user, but I have recently realised that I don’t really have a great need for extensions. Chrome’s minimalist style is very appealing. It will be interesting to see whether they can maintain that minimalism while adding more stuff.

    A couple of downers: I have got used to ad-free browsing, and it seems pretty obvious that Google won’t particularly favour adblocking. We’ll see.

    Secondly, my browsing style means that I run through Google Reader clicking on links to read and I like those links to open in the background until I have stacked up a few interesting ones to browse through. With Chrome, there doesn’t seem to be a facility to ‘open in the background’ if you have set aside Reader as an application. I’d like to do that, but because of my browsing foible I’m stuck with using it within the browser. Never mind, things will gradually be ironed out.

    All in all, I can see myself using it as my main browser.

  6. It seems ok as far as speed and function; however the non-adblocking and lack of extensibility will be a deal breaker for me. Likely it will become another tool I use once in a while but only for specific needs (like Opera and Safari are now). Overall though it is interesting and I will keep an eye on it to see how it develops.

  7. leland wrote:
    It seems ok as far as speed and function; however the non-adblocking and lack of extensibility will be a deal breaker for me. Likely it will become another tool I use once in a while but only for specific needs (like Opera and Safari are now). Overall though it is interesting and I will keep an eye on it to see how it develops.

    Same for me. Without ad blocker and mouse gestures, this Browser isn’t an option for me…

  8. I don’t like it.
    For me, it’s actually a lot slower than Firefox. With fx, I never really have to wait for a site to load. With Chrome there have been noticeable waits for sites that typically take 1-2 seconds (max) to load in Firefox.
    Lack of extensions. I don’t use a lot, but the ones I have are more or less necessary.
    Terrible bookmark management. It imported bookmarks from my non default Fx profile and importing the json file from my default bookmarks seems impossible.
    Not enough options, not tweakable enough.

    What I do like about it:
    - tab task manager
    - each tab is a separate process…along with crashing individual tabs not the entire browser
    - the fact that there really is no title bar, it’s just the tabs. That saves a lot of space.

    But really, though, it’ll be awhile before I even consider using Chrome. I’d rather use Opera, and that’s saying alot coming from me.

  9. I love it (in fact I’m using it at this very moment). But I couldn’t think about switching unless it supported Foxmarks.

  10. Where’s the home page icon/button?
    I use Firefox 3 on XP and Vista.
    I use lots of extensions and that is a main reason I use Firefox. Without the extensions, Google chrome is no good for me.

    However, for a mobile device, for someone who needs a quick, easy and simple browser interface, Google Chrome looks good.
    It could be a good browser/interface for public machines.

  11. I can’t install it. It pop-ups some strange error code 0xc000005 when that 450KB setup file starts… even in Windows Safe Mode.
    Darn…!

  12. why is nobody talking about the fact that it does not support rss feeds in any way? it makes the browser look old fashioned

  13. Thor wrote:
    Where’s the home page icon/button?

    You have to enable it at the Wrench Menu (top upper right hand corner) of Chrome:

    Options—>Basics—>Show the “Home Page” button at the Toolbar.

    That’s it. You’ll then see the little blue house at the Toolbar beside the Bookmark star.

  14. Where’s the mac support!?

  15. I installed Chrome onto our family’s Windows XP desktop computer, and it is AWESOME. I’m a minimalist at heart so the shiny and slick UI really appeals to me. It’s also insanely fast. No way is it going to replace Firefox; I still depend on a lot of my extensions. But for quick light browsing, Chrome is my app of choice.

  16. I find it amazing and very innovative. It is REALLY fast, not just loading the pages, but also a very responsive GUI.

    I have managed to block the ads by using Proxomitron. However, I don’t understand how I can subscribe and view feeds yet.

  17. I like Chrome but I don’t think it’s about Google supplanting Firefox. It’s open source. Google would be thrilled if Mozilla adopted all of the Chrome technology. Google feels that new browser technology is necessary to deliver their cloud applications.
    Microsoft is tied to desktop products like Office.They have a totally different vision from Google. Microsoft will not be willingly producing applications that give advantages to Google. Google on the other hand can’t put their future in the hands of the Firefox guys. They need skin in the game. Chrome does that. What matters is the underlying technology in Chrome.

    And to all the people complaining about Chrome not having this or that extension …does the word “Beta” mean anything to you?

  18. Being so late to the market it will be compared to more mature products, fairly or unfairly that is a handicap. I like it but its nothing great and the only benefit I can notice is speed which is only meaningful if using the browser with web apps. A normal page can take 2 or 1.5 seconds to load, doesn’t make a difference to me. Web apps themselves are not there yet in my opinion so a review of Chrome will have to wait for web apps…if that make sense.

  19. Googler wrote:
    Where’s the mac support!?

    Should be coming along with Linux version as well.

  20. I was very disappointed with chrome. I love Google and most of their software but this did not impress me one bit. I especially did not like the very sparse look of the program.

  21. I liked it a lot. Simple. Clean. Fast.

  22. It’s fast and clean looking, and I have enjoyed testing Chrome, however extensions such as ‘copy link as plain text’ in Firefox have also made me reject Opera as I do Chrome when it comes to everyday use.

    Speed in itself is not everything I want simple predictable functionality with plenty of easily customizable features which I can select.

    No AdblockPlus and NoScript make Chrome a FAIL in my book.

  23. I thought I’d give it a try although I must admit it would have to be pretty special to make me switch from Firefox. But I hit a snag. When I tried to do a search all the results came up in Arabic even though I had set the language to English in the options section. This is no use to me as although I live in an Arabic speaking country I do not speak Arabic.

  24. I tested it shortly yesterday. I was very pleased at how fast it is (especially when launching), but I noticed a few bugs on Facebook (some Javascript links don’t work, which is a rather serious bug); I guess it’s related to the new Javascript engine. Also a few minor layout bugs on Google Calendar (maybe also Javascript related).

  25. I tried Chrome and liked it for its speed and simplicity, it seems like a great browser either for those people who don’t really know how to use one and just want to check few sites occasionally, or for those people who use cloud apps for everything and don’t use any browser features.

    I prefer the customization of Firefox and all the extensions, Opera is the only browser I could imagine using instead.

  26. For all you adblocker lovers: you could check out AdMuncher ([admuncher.com]), which blocks ads perfectly fine for any application you use (browsers, feed readers, even banners in banner-supported software).

  27. Google Chrome is very fast, but with firefox i can have a lot of extensions… so… i keep my Fierfox.

  28. @Saint Germain I’m with you, Google Chrome is fast and simple but without the add ons you wont it’s not so good so keeping Firefox would be better right now.

  29. I like it – a lot! Taking some time to get used to its very simplicity of use; however it has a lot going for it. What I particularly like is that it is – woosh – very fast!

    Love, Light and Peace
    JC

  30. i’m surprized that no one has so far mentioned the privacy implications of the browser, which will account for a crucial step ahead in Google’s clients’ profiling. i know that in the States privacy concerns are extremely underdeveloped (if not to say: ignored)–and “Google-fans” in general might not have a sense for this at all anyhow. over here in Europe that will keep a lot of people from using the browser as is, and rightly so.
    Patriot Act, FISA, yes and Google; i’m getting tired of having all my habits tracked–no matter for what purpose, and especially when it comes in the guises of “support” “convenience” “comfort” and so on.

  31. I do not like the EULA for one, that has to be modified – If I blog something using Chrome does that mean Google owns my content?

    I also noticed Flash integration was iffy… a couple embedded videos hung on me and they opened fine in Firefox.

    and yeah wheres the RSS / Live bookmark support?

    It’s a neat idea and all, but those three things alone make a compelling reason for the savvy user to stay with his/her favorite browser for now.

  32. @Rob, Ryan, …

    Google has modified the EULA
    ([arstechnica.com])

    They have agreed it was their mistake and it was badly written.

    Also, in terms of privacy, since Chrome is open source I’m sure anyone can check whether there are any privacy concerns.

  33. No adblocking, no extensions, no thanks

  34. Wow, I’m really surprised as to how many of you have tried the browser, but don’t like it due to the lack of extension compatibility. That really goes to show that their target market is not existing Firefox users.

    Cody wrote:
    Google has modified the EULA

    That’s good to hear because they were fielding a lot of criticism for that.

  35. OK, this thing is freaking awesome! The minimalist design is perfect, almost exactly same as how I made Fx w/ exts, but better, right out of the box. Comes w/ a truly smart location bar that understands the redundancy of two boxes to get where u wanna go. Leverages awesome features from Opera like tab tear out and moving ‘em between windows, and a smart new tab page, yet w/out the crippling site incompatibilities. Y!Mail works great, and the team already said they’re doing the testing to make it officially supported soon. Incognito is a cool feature. Also, takes Fx’s innovative add bookmark button. The design is seriously so great. It’s minimal, yet includes everything you’d need (ex-no status bar, but hover over a link and see the URL destination). That’s example of where in Fx ext would hide status bar, but wouldn’t smartly show destination URL’s. It’s all set up so you really rarely have to open a window other than main. Downloads show at the bottom, bookmarks search from URL bar. Also, very efficiently uses top part of the window for tabs when maximized.

    One annoyance is it scrolls way too far, and not smooth. Also missing a few things like bookmarks organizer, more options, spellcheck… I’d expect that these will be fixed/added before this beta is released.

    Until then, I’m really liking Chrome (I’m real surprised they got me, a die-hard Yahooooo!)

    BTW: Unrelated. I was trying to do voice chat w/ Vista Y!Msgr, but only allows 1 on 1. I tried istalling XP version, but breaks mic and speakers. What apps support group voice chat on Vista? GTalk?

    PS: I can drag the text box bigger! Awesome!!!

  36. It even asked me at launch if I wanted to pick a default search other than Google, listing Yahoo! as an option. Can’t even do that w/ Firefox.

  37. the German “federal office for the security in the information technology” (yes that really exists!) gave out a “strong warning” today to abstain from using Chrome at this particular state of development because of its security holes (as demonstrated by Aviv Raff) and because of Google’s general habit of data mining, that is, customer profiling. right or wrong, i found it interesting that a state agency can do such thing.
    for you who read German here’s the link [spiegel.de]

  38. Google chrome is just simply amazing, it even has that basic ”What all teenagers want” kind of touch to it. very rad and cool, beautiful if I may say D:

    I like google alot more than I used to now.

    Respeect

  39. I’ve replaced FF [which still runs on my computers as for I'm a developer and need it to check website compatibility] with Chrome which I use intensively every day due to my job. It’s simply amazing and much faster than FF. Many extensions are now available to customize Chrome the way you like or need to.

  40. It tries to be firefox but is still missing alot of the features of firefox such as add-on support it also allows java script and active x to run what ever and
    even internet explorer warns people about active x.
    i think it was designed to push google forward, by recording browsing habits so for all i know its prob.

    it does have firebug a firefox addon built in, but like i said why does the world need another firefox clone?

    just makes life harder for us web designers, now we got another browsers to compatibility check

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