If you’re an average Mac or PC user you’re probably satisfied with your browser experience. After all, Firefox is very good, Mac or PC. Apple’s Safari is very good, Mac or PC. Windows users who’ve tried Internet Explorer 8 say it’s the best browser Microsoft has shipped (which may not be saying much). Along comes Google and their browser, Chrome. Why?
Browsers seem to have more than their fair share of vulnerabilities and exploits. Is that reason enough for search giant Google to want their own browser?
Officially, Google Chrome is available for Windows users, with a Linux version on the side lines, and a Mac version still in the early stages of development.
In typical Google fashion, the company doesn’t have much to say about Chrome:
Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.
If you’re looking for bells and whistles to outdo Firefox or Internet Explorer, stop looking. Chrome isn’t the droid browser you’re looking for.
Chrome uses WebKit, the open source rendering engine used in Apple’s Safari browser and a dozen or so other and less well known browser. That means Chrome is fast, both Mac and Windows, and pages render even better than Internet Explorer.
Speed is important to Google but so is security, and Chrome does a few things other browsers, including Safari, do not.
Tabs are the best invention yet for web browsers, and I’ve come to appreciate Safari 4.0’s new tab controls. Chrome tabs are somewhat unique. Each tab acts as a separate browser.
That means Chrome should be more secure and more stable. Stable? Yes. Safari and Firefox can open multiple browser windows, but if one crashes (I’m lookin’ at you, Flash), it brings down the whole browser.
Less is More
The address bar in Chrome for Windows is also the search box. Chrome is smart enough to know that a URL is not the same as keywords for search.
This minimalist approach shows up elsewhere in Chrome. All those menus and toolbar icons that can clutter up Firefox are reduced in Safari and stark nakedly gone in Chrome.
Google makes its living inside the browser, and, like it or not, 50-percent to 75-percent of all browser use comes in the various flavors of Internet Explorer. Google wants to control their own future, hence, their own browser.
Think of it as a mini-operating system within a browser that brings users the total Google experience without interference from Microsoft.
The Mac Version
Not ready for prime time browsing is Chrome for the Mac.
Google is making faster progress on the Mac version recently, sometimes with a dozen new builds a day. Whatever is less minimal than minimalist is Chrome for the Mac.
There’s an annoying little status bar at the bottom of the page which constantly blinks. Pages render quickly, of course; about as fast as Safari 4.0 which is wicked fast. Chrome looks very incomplete, unpolished, and not something to recommend for daily usage. It’s a curiosity. Why?
Generally speaking, though it’s improving, Chrome doesn’t want to run for more than a few hours on the Mac before disappearing from view, sometimes rather spectacularly. Preferences are less than minimal, though Google boldly asks if you want to make Chrome your default browser.
As always, your mileage may vary, and caveat emptor. One good thing. Chrome doesn’t do Flash.