Monday, September 15, 2008

Google Chrome Zips Through the Tubes [Reaction]

Everyone is clamoring about Google Chrome, so I figure I should throw in my two cents as well. If you haven't heard, Google just dropped a big old stone in the internet and they're watching to see how big the ripples get. With effectively no warning (they announced it one day and released it the next), the search engine giant has created a web browser that is fairly polished and ready to take on some of the biggest contenders out there.

Let's back up a little bit before I dive into the nitty gritty. Remember, Google is the largest and richest company devoted to user actions on the web. While search and Adsense may be their bread and butter, NONE of that would be possible without web browsers. Many people have speculated about the possibility of a Google operating system before, but the idea of a Google browser has never been as popular. As it turns out, everyone had it half right.

Google lives entirely on the internet. They have made the occasional foray into desktop applications, but those are always heavily dependent on the ability to "call home." A true Google OS doesn't make a lot of sense, but think about Google's platform. Its services don't depend on anything other than a web browser. Providing that browser is, for Google, THE SAME as providing an OS is to Microsoft. Google Chrome will unify the browser, the web platform, and the web apps under Google's digital empire.

Now that we've identified the purpose of Google Chrome, how does it do in the wild? Well, keeping in mind that it is still an early prototype, it is fairly remarkable. The install process is simple, non-intrusive, and would make my parents comfortable with it from the get go. After this, it offers to do the standard transfer of bookmarks from popular web browsers. Once you've finished, it simply drops you into the interface and lets you go on your way. The screen has a single bar at the top, which they are calling the "Omnibar," and a very minimalist set of control buttons.

Instead of a program toolbar at the top of the browser, the screen is defined by the tabs. Because each tab is its own process in the operating system, the tab is considered the highest level of differentiation in Chrome. Supposedly in the future, each tab could have some independent settings for different kinds of browsing. The commands you are familiar with are found in either the "control this page" or "control Chrome" drop-down buttons.

If we leave out the more mundane commands, there are several that readily call attention to themselves. Next to "new tab" and "new window" there is also a "new incognito window" option. This command brings up a new window that is colored differently to indicate that it browses the web without picking up tracking information (aka Porn Mode). There is also a "create application shortcut" option. It creates a bookmark that will replicate the function of a program shortcut, but instead of opening a .EXE file, it's opening a link to a web app. While this may seem a bit silly right now, it is certainly Google's intention to make web-based programs much more of a reality.

This is a reaction, not a full review, so I'll save any other jewels of wisdom for later. I suggest you give Chrome a try and see if you can use it for something. For the moment I'm using it when Flock crash-cycles uncontrollably (in other words, fairly frequently). Leave your thoughts in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Some problems I found:

    -- Flash plugins freeze the browser. I have to switch to Firefox to view said content

    -- While the cool blue download arrows make me feel all swanky, they don't help me open downloaded torrent files. :D

    -- The url bar at the top has a built in Google search. I love not having to type in to start my search (without avoiding yahoo).


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The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

Further, in the interest of full disclosure, this author holds minor financial investments in Apple, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices.