Saturday, September 06, 2008

Google "Chrome" Web Browser

After years of quiet on the Web browser front, there is a new entry in to the battle. Google has introduced a new browser in to the realm...

Being the computer person I am, I of course downloaded it immediately. We'll see what happens with this (it's still in Beta - or testing), but bringing Google in to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox will probably help things. Competition is good for the consumer.

Anyway, I installed it, and I figured I would take it for a little test drive. First impression - it allows me to import settings from other browsers - this is something Firefox also does, so that's good. After going through that, it brought me to a default page that says "most visited pages". The pages are displayed in little boxes, so you can see little previews of your frequently visited pages.

This seems like a clever idea to me. First impressions, good!

I then went to to give it a test. Why ESPN? Well, sports aside, this is a very media intensive page. It managed to block a popup automatically, good...Adobe Flash player was automatically setup and it managed to play a sports highlight...good...and then BOOM. Unable to fully display the page, would you like to reload?

Not a good sign!

It gave me the option to reload, so I did, and it worked just fine the second time.

So, how does it stack up? Here are my thoughts, simply from a usability interface.

  • Features you are used to are there - it has tabbed browsing, as Firefox and Internet Explorer do, built in phishing and malware detection, easy clearing of your browsing history, bookmarks....
  • The interface is less cluttered than the interfaces you see in Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  • It has an "incognito" mode - wow. Pages you view in the incognito window claim to not show up in your browsing history or search history, and will protect you if you visit Web sites that you aren't sure are trustworthy. I didn't test this fully, but a spectacular idea!
  • It has it's own "task manager". If you've ever visited a Web page that locked up in Internet Explorer or Firefox, you've likely had to kill the entire browser program and restart. This allows you to kill certain bits of the browser, so let's say a Flash program is slowing me down, I can just shut that off without affecting the other things I am doing.
  • Downloads show up along the bottom of the screen by the status bar - rather than disappearing immediately (Internet Explorer) or having a pop up window with downloads (Firefox)
  • It doesn't seem to have the page setup options you have in Internet Explorer and Firefox (for example, print headers and footers or not)
  • They didn't fix the problem I would love to see someone fix - block ads on a certain site - this can be done in another way, but it would be great to see this actually easy for the average user to do
  • It has its own set of hotkeys different than the other browsers. Just a minor annoyance.
  • If you close the only tab that exists in a window, it exits the entire program. This is not intuitive - one wrong click and you're going to have to restart the program. It should warn the user or give a blank tab.
Worth a download...use the link above to give it a shot, why not, for free? Since it's a Google product, I am willing to bet it will be around for a while. It seems like everything they touch turns to gold.

Besides, for those of us who have Web design background, it gives you yet ANOTHER Web browser to test your site in. FUN!

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