For the average Windows user, the news of release of Google Chrome 5 is not a big thing. For Mac and Linux users however, this news is impressive enough to warrant a cruise to Google Chrome’s download page. After all, its claim of monumental browsing speeds and new features is just begging for trial.
After months of adjustments and bug fixing, Google Chrome 5 has gone stable. In its new form, Chrome 5 boasts of having bench marked speed boost, browser synchronization between computers, a more polished bookmark manager, more extensions and HTML5 support. Although this new version does not support Adobe Flash, Chrome promises to integrate this into later versions. Judging by the speed that Chrome developers work on improvements, this might not take long at all.
To mark unprecedented leaps in terms of browser speed, Chrome developers took it upon themselves to showcase their success through a Youtube video. The video features how Chrome’s speed fairs against a potato gun, lightning and the speed of sound. The effort was creative but not that impressive. It would have been probably more impressive was if the browsing speed of Chrome broke the space-time continuum; that would have been some unparalleled speed!
In terms of humanly possible comparative tests, Chrome’s bench marked tests shows an improvement of more than 200% compared to its very first beta on 2008. Chrome is able to load pages instantly by using Webkit open source rendering engine. .
Since Chrome opted for the clean look, some features that most users are used to are missing. Bookmarks can only be opened by pressing Ctrl+Shift+B. When the bookmarks’ window pops up, you have to click Organize to create a new one. Or you can right click at any folder or the list pane of bookmarks itself to add a page. When it comes to bookmarking in Chrome, speed is not really apparent.
A tab is not just a tab
What sets Chrome apart from the regular run of the mill browsers is its GUI. Instead of a toolbar, Chrome has tabs giving it a more clean and uncluttered look. Tabs can be dragged away from the main window, which automatically opens them as a separate window. They can also be pinned by dragging the tab to the extreme left. These tabs can’t be accidentally closed unless a user closes the whole window itself or right clicks and chooses the close tab option. You can change the order of the tabs by simply dragging and releasing the tab to a chosen area of the window.
The improvements on the tabs have also boosted Chrome’s speed. Its Omnibox doubles as the URL area, wherein users can type the URL page directly and as a search bar. Whilst in other browsers a mistyped address would prompt the “page not found” warning, in Chrome it automatically searches for suggestions that are close to the entered page. Users can also type keywords to search for.
When opening a tab, the most visited sites are displayed. At the bottom of these shortcuts are the recently closed tabs. This feature particularly comes in handy when a tab is accidentally closed.
Chrome handles its tabs separately. It means when one tab in a window crashes, the other tabs in the window are not affected.
Chrome is also the only browser of its kind which can automatically translate pages for you without needing extra installations or extensions.
Plug-ins, add-ons or in Chrome-speak, extensions make every user’s browser unique. Each extension speaks of a user’s particular need for his browsing experience. Adding extensions in Chrome opens up a new tab in its window. From there, the user can click on the “get more extensions” link to go to the page, which lists a plethora of extensions. The gallery showcases a list of extensions that can be sorted according to “most popular”, “most recent”, “most rated”, and “featured”.
In Chrome 5, the Incognito or the private browsing mode allows users to choose what extensions to run while browsing. It’s only reasonable that users would still want those extensions even if they are incognito.
Although Chrome is still developing support for Adobe Flash, its HTML5 integration allows video playback by using video and audio tags even without the support of additional plug-ins from third parties.
Probably the most interesting integrations come from products developed by Google itself. Gmail for example allow dragging and dropping from your file explorer to your Gmail window for attaching files. Google map’s Geolocation API also utilizes HTML5.
IF you’re planning to migrate to Chrome, it’s very easy to sync your browser preferences. Everything including bookmarks is imported to the Chrome GUI. Imports also include languages, themes, homepage and even your preset zoom.
Most users used to Firefox’s versatility in personalizing a web browser will get a hard time getting used to Chrome’s complexity. However, if you want something that truly lives up to its claims of speed and stability, Chrome is your best bet.
If you’re already using the beta version, it should auto update. If you’re interest is piqued, download the latest version and try for yourself.
Ultimately, users are judges when it comes to a product’s real relevance to their needs. Some products might work for others, while some might just disappoint and fail in living up to their proclaimed “leaps” in terms of features and services.