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Google Chrome first impressions

by Philip Sellers

Its been a couple days of using Google’s new browser Chrome here in the office.  For the most part, I run my Gmail and Google Reader in it and it works great.   For other sites, like Facebook, its not doing quite as well. 

To start with the positive, the browser’s minimalist design is very nice.  I like the fact that I have a lot of web real estate inside the browser, instead of a lot of buttons, toolbars and real estate devoted to controls.  Overall, the design is functional – in line with Firefox, Safari and IE 7 – with tabs to separate your browsing/applications.  The other design feature is the special about page which shows your most often visited sites.  I think this is a nice, no-typing-necessary innovation to get you exactly where you go.  

The browser’s speed is probably its biggest asset.  For instance, my local daily’s website has awful load times in all other browsers and its noticeably faster loading in Chrome.  I also see nice improvement rendering pages on other sites I visit often.  

The browser is still in beta, but I’ve found it to be somewhat incompatible with Facebook and other non-Google, heavy Web 2.0 applications.  Somewhat surpisingly, MobileMe’s public Gallery has problems in Chrome (mine never loads for some reason), but the me.com suite of applications work pretty well.  I find it a little surprising since Chrome is based on WebKit, like Apple’s Safari.  I’ve found Safari really stable with me.com.  

One major feature is the isolation of each tab as a process.  This allows a single tab to crash and close, without losing the rest of your session.  Its understandable why Google would want this functionality as its pushes into web alternatives to desktop applications.  I constantly have 4 of 5 tabs open in a browser and its a big inconvenience when your browser crashes and you have to relogin to every single site or application.   This functionality will help to stablize their platform and push it more mainstream.

Other bloggers are pointing out many of the flaws, and it is just a beta software, so I expect a lot of streamlining and refinement, but overall I’m inpressed with the initial version released.

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