You might have heard Google has a browser out. I’ve been a Firefox user for years now but as I’ve followed the recommended upgrade path the browser has gotten slower and less stable in exchange for a bunch of features I don’t really care about. After Firefox 3 crashing twice yesterday, I downloaded Chrome and have been using it for the last 24 hours. So far, here’s what I’m seeing:
* it seems faster and more responsive than both Firefox and IE. Fast page loads, fast scrolling.
* I’ve read about incompatibilities with some webpages but haven’t been bitten by any myself yet. The only feature I miss is right-clicking to get to dictionary when I misspell something in an edit window like the one I’m typing this in. I’m sure that’s coming soon.
* The tabs got moved up top of the browser window. I’m not at all sure that’s a win–further to go with the mouse to get to them now. Otherwise they’re easily re-orderable and popping them out to make their own windows is a neat touch.
* The address bar is smart: if it can’t resolve what you type as a URL it’ll function as a search engine, so no need to have a separate search engine text entry box. Duh. This seems like such obvious behaviour I don’t know why every browser doesn’t do this, so kudos to Google for implementing it.
* Things I’m having trouble getting used to:
+ no stop button–weird! It’s actually there, but it’s all the way to the right of the address bar and that’s not intuitive for me when compared to the standard browser. I use ‘stop’ a lot more than ‘bookmark’ (at the left of the address bar) so I would switch the location of the two if I could.
+ no ‘home’ button–I use this all the time in my other browsers. I could turn it on, but my homepage is also the first link in the bookmarks link bar so I’m going to try to get used to clicking that.
+ no menu bar across the top of the app. I’m not sure I like this.
* Some of Chrome’s most vaunted features are useless to me. The New Tab behaviour is that when you create a new tab, Chrome loads a ‘you usually do these things with a new tab–click to do one of them now’ page. If you have a personal web page you use as your homepage I’d hope that you’d already have set it up to fill that need.
* The Safe Browsing features, which raise alarms when you visit sites that Google thinks might be phishing or pushing malware, are probably useful if you like to visit dodgy sites and click every link that asks you to install weird software. Those of us who aren’t browsing like ten-year-olds have probably never had a problem with this stuff. I don’t need the additional security, and when it identified as suspect a site I visit every day with no problems, I turned it off.
* Running each tab as its own process actually does work the way Google claimed–one tab would slow down while doing something and I’d flip to another and it’d be running full-speed. Nice!
* That said, Chrome’s already gotten balled-up enough I had to restart the entire thing once. Sad face.
* I miss the “did you mean to close all 20 tabs you had open” dialog box Firefox gives me when I click the close app button. I usually didn’t mean to do that.
I’ll keep playing with it. It’s definitely promising.