Google Chrome

Google Chrome is Google’s new web browser; it was released September 2, 2008. I’ve been using it since then, and I like it pretty good. It takes up less screen real estate then Firefox and starts in about half the time. It seems like pages load faster, but that’s hard to judge accurately. The bookmark is nicer than Firefox in that it allows more and smaller buttons showing, as well as the conventional folder/menu to store bookmarks. Don’t uninstall Firefox yet -you’ll need it to view some Javascript frames and applications that are out there. The only places where it’s failed to show everything for me has been when using a secure site, like online banking or similar sites that have interactive pages. I use Chrome for all my quizzes and work submission and it handles this super secure environment with ease. The exceptions are getting fewer the longer it’s out. Chrome updates automatically in the background, so no more restarting the browser or installing updates like Firefox loves to do.

Below is a screenshot of Firefox 2 with NAU’s academic catalog open; the navigation pane on the left is correctly displayed. The bottom picture is the Chrome browser with the same window open; notice that the left navigation pane is blank –apparently unsupported, or the page hasn’t been updated.

Also, notice that Chrome with tabs open and with the bookmark bar showing, takes up the same space as Firefox with tabs and bookmark bar hidden. Chrome has nothing at the bottom of the screen, unlike Firefox, making an extra quarter inch of screen height.

A few features that I really like are the mouse button for opening another tab (Firefox 3 now has this same feature), one field to enter both URLs and search queries, and the overall minimalist design of buttons and other controls. The address field is very smart; when entering the first few letters of a site or previous search, it autofills what it thinks you are typing. Press Enter, or keep typing if it’s not the word you want. You don’t have to click it with the mouse to fill the field. For me to go to nau.edu, all I have to type is na and then Enter. Very cool. Another feature that saves page loads is the ability to search within a site from this smart address field. For example, to search for a video on Youtube, type in ‘yo’ in the address field, and click the ‘Search within Youtube’ option that appears, and type the Youtube search into the address bar. I don’t use this because I don’t like to interrupt typing to click the mouse to select the option, but it’s there for whoever wants to do it that way. Youtube will load with your search results already showing. There are ways of doing this on Firefox but it involves entering operators in the search query, something that real people don’t do regularly.

Chrome is free and it’s constantly getting better. Download it here, from Google. I think you’ll like it.

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