Is Google's new Chrome browser any good?

Google is looking to plug the gaps in its cloud computing universe with its new browser, Chrome, which many believe could be a serious competitor to Microsoft's IE and Mozilla's Firefox.



The browser was made available overnight for free download, in beta form, and after a couple of hours' use, it looks to be a decent addition to the web arsenal - especially when it's in full-release form.



It is smooth, fast and has a few tasty features - for most web users, it's probably advanced enough in its current iteration for everyday use.



Installation into Windows XP was completely drama-free from an .exe file. A prompt asked for Firefox to be closed while it imported bookmarks, passwords and the like, and it was all go.



First impressions were that it loads pages faster than the current Firefox version; even embedded video on sites didn't do its usual glitchy dance. Google's seems to have made good on its claim that its new JavaScript Virtual Engine - dubbed V8 - would load Java content faster and cleaner than other browsers.



It did initially seem strange using an internet browser without the standard menu bar - this is eschewed in favour of a row of buttons to access options, add bookmarks or navigate, with an 'omnibar' set in the middle. This is an address field that doubles as a search window, tap in what you're after and it goes directly to Google, although you can decide to target your web searching elsewhere.



Its tab line-up runs across the top of the omnibar and buttons, and each tab is treated separately, so a dodgy webpage can be shut down without crashing the whole browser. When you open a new tab, there's a selection of thumbnails of recent pages visited, a list of bookmarks and a few current searches.



If you want to go stealth there's a 'porn mode' called Incognito, which launches a different-coloured window for easy identification, and won't save history, cookies or other information from sites visited.



There are a few niggles right off the bat - including the lack of extension capability, which regular Firefox users would certainly miss. It also misses out on RSS feed capability, but as it's a very fresh version, these are problems likely to be rectified in a full version.



After working and surfing the web with Chrome, it returned a fairly positive experience, although didn't manage to execute some commands in the nzherald.co.nz content management system.



The tech blogosphere is very much divided on Chrome and its ability to put a serious dent into Microsoft's browser market share (particularly after its public beta release of IE8 last week).

Wall Street Journal tech writer Walt Mossberg had a few brickbats for Chrome users after a week of testing it against IE8.



"Despite Google's claims that Chrome is fast, it was notably slower in my tests at the common task of launching Web pages than either Firefox or Safari," he said. "However, it proved faster than the latest version of IE also a beta version called IE8.



"Meanwhile, Microsoft hasn't been sitting still. The second beta version of IE8 is the best edition of Internet Explorer in years. It is packed with new features of its own, some of which are similar to those in Chrome, and some of which, in my view, top Chrome's features."



Techzilo were reasonably impressed: "If Google's promises of fast Javascript rendering, security, extensions etc. is delivered, Opera, Firefox and several other browsers could have one very interesting competitor to deal with. None of the other browsers have the backing of a company as large as Google (Microsoft and Apple do not count, as one suffers from lack of quality and the other suffers from lack of quantity). "

Techradar was quite complimentary, rating it's address autocompletion capabilities alongside Firefox 3's modestly-titled Awesome bar: "It autocompletes with a level of smarts that rivals (if not exceeds) Firefox's new Awesome bar picking out previously visited sites intelligently and extremely quickly.

"You want quick? You got it. Google Chrome feels nippier than Firefox all round, as well it should considering the demands it places on your computer. "



Gizmodo wasn't too flash on the tab set-up, and were less than complimentary about its look: "T he tabs in Chrome do have a couple of annoying little quirks that aren't in FF. For one, tabs remain the same size no matter how many are open rather than stretching to fill the window. That makes it difficult to tell what's in each tab due to how small they are. Making it more confusing is the fact that new tabs open between the tab you have open and the closest tab rather than putting new tabs at the end. This makes it easy to lose track of your tabs if you like to keep them orderly. Chrome needs to get some theme support in a bad way."

Mattcuts.com blogged about the communication between Chrome and Google's own servers, but found nothing too invasive, saying: "I thought it would be better to write down all the communication that happens so that people wouldn't invent conspiracy theories."

This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald - http://www.nzherald.co.nz

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

    £20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

    Day In a Page

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US