No longer a beta, Google’s Chrome Web browser is an able challenger to Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Chrome offers strong new features, such as integration with Google Gears, a hybrid search address bar and solid security offerings.
However, the search company’s browser lacks some basic features found in IE, Firefox and Opera, and limits users who want to define settings and customise their browser. Despite its shortcomings, browser users should give Google Chrome a try.
Just a few short months ago, Google shocked the Web world with the release of the beta of Google Chrome, a new Web browser direct from the search giant itself.
And despite some jokes that Google Chrome would remain a beta for years – just like Gmail – the Chrome browser is no longer a beta and is now fully functional.
So what does the release of Google Chrome 1.0 mean for the Web browsing world and the Web in general? Well, the simple fact that it is from Google has a major impact, and should put the browser in a good position to compete with Microsoft and Mozilla for market share.
But what about the browser itself? From a strict usability standpoint, Google Chrome is one of the most interesting and intuitive browsers I have ever used, and is probably the most impressive first version of a browser ever. Once a user gets over some of the quirks and differences from other browser interfaces (such as tabs at the very top of the window and no file menus), Google Chrome quickly begins to feel like the right way to surf the Web.
Google Chrome also has some other nice touches, such as a hybrid search address bar and integration with Google Gears to provide desktop Web applications. However, not everything about Google Chrome shines brightly.
The browser lacks many features found in other browsers, especially when it comes to highlighting text in a Web page and carrying out additional actions, and it is very limited in terms of options for users to define settings and customise their browser. In fact, Google Chrome is without a doubt the least customisable Web browser available today. Also, at this time Google Chrome is only available for Windows XP and Vista.
When a user first launches Google Chrome, there is definitely a moment of disorientation, as it has a different look and feel than most other browsers. The tabbed windows at the top of the browser took some getting used to, but I quickly became comfortable with them.
Overall, tabs are implemented very well in Google Chrome. Tabs can be easily moved and adjusted, and when launching a link in a tab, users can choose multiple options for the new site such as private browsing. I also liked the ability to drag and drop tabs outside of the browser to launch a new window.
When a new tab is opened, instead of showing a blank tab, Google Chrome shows thumbnails of the most frequently visited sites, along with links to bookmarked sites and recently closed tabs. I liked this feature, which is very similar to Opera’s Speed Dial, though I would have liked the option to customise it to always show certain sites no matter how frequently they are visited.