First Impressions of Chrome, Google’s New Browser

After a couple of hours playing and tweaking, here are my first impressions of Google’s new browser, in no particular order.

  • Simple, quick Web-based install.  (Also installs Google Gears)
  • Very fast.  Built-in JAVA V8 engine renders JAVA-based pages, like AJAX, super quick.  (You really notice differences in server speed with this browser and a fast connection.)
  • Clean interface.  Simple to use.  Intuitive for anyone who uses Google applications such as Gmail or Google Docs.
  • Easy navigation via tabs.  (A tab-lock would be handy.)  Separate tabs for each application eat up about as much memory as Firefox, but the memory is returned when you close the tab. No discernible memory creep while standing idle.
  • Sandboxing (isolation) of activity in each tab keeps applications from interfering with each other.  In theory, crashing an app in one tab will not crash the browser.  
  • Automatic importation of Firefox bookmarks into Fx-like toolbar.  I assume the same would be true for IE and Safari.
  • Easily imported feeds from Firefox Sage Too to Google Reader.
  • Auto password storage that can be set to select for each new password, or disabled completely.     Unknown security issues re password storage.  I won’t be storing any important ones until I know much more about it.
  • Optional start page shows thumbs of most recent visits, active (linked) recent bookmarks and recently closed tabs.
  • Create bookmark icons on desktop or task bar for specific applications.  They will then open the application (Gmail, for example) in its own window rather than in a tab.  It would be convenient to have a bar for these in the browser itself, although the task bar can serve.
  • History readout has detailed descriptions, as links arranged chronologically.  Very nice.
  • No skins, but that’s sorta the point.  This is clearly meant to be a vehicle for online applications and cloud computing, and they will no doubt keep it clean like other Google interfaces.
  • Currently lacks extensions, but with Gears integrated it won’t be long until that’s taken care of by the community.
  • Has a Linux feel about it.  Should integrate well with Gnome and KDE desktops.

After about an hour I felt pretty much at home with Chrome.  I really like the fast response, and the overall look and feel.  I will be continuing to use Firefox for critical browsing until a number of security issues have been answered, but I can easily see using this as a primary — perhaps a sole — browser once the security issues are settled and a few bells and whistles are added or made available as gadgets.

You can download Chrome here, and there are a number of handy video tutorials to help you get started.  Give it a test drive.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing IE and Fx for a long time, but this is certainly a step in what I consider to be the direction of computing in general.

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