First Look at Google Chrome

Posted September 3rd, 2008 by kyle

The internet is abuzz with comments about Google Chrome, the newest entry in the browser wars. Within the first day, it had already exceeded Opera’s market share, and we had several questions about support for it in Ultra Recall. So I decided to download and install it to see it for myself.

In true Google minimalist fashion, it performs a no-questions-asked installation, and it installs to a user-accessible location (which means it can be installed by non-admin users). The interface is also rather sparse, with no window caption, menu or status bar, which does provide more screen space for web content but may be a tad overdone.

It does start quickly and is responsive when loading web pages, although it doesn’t seem all that much quicker than IE. I’ve seen claims of enormous JavaScript speed improvements, but GMail and GCal did not feel much faster to me.

I like the ability to drag a tab into its own window (and drag a separate window as a new tab into another Chrome window). Apparently each tab uses a separate process, which should make it more stable. I also like the address bar auto-completion, which is similar to what’s available in Firefox 3 and IE 8, but it also provides inline search capability instead of using a separate field.

Another novelty is the ‘create application shortcut’ feature, which creates a desktop shortcut that launches a specific web app in a separate Chrome window with custom icon, no tabs, address bar, bookmark bar, etc. I’m not sure how useful this is though, since clicking a link in this window opens in a new tab in the main Chrome browser window, but it might be useful for some Web 2.0 applications.

One drawback I noticed immediately: It uses a non-standard Vista-style window border on Windows XP, which looks out of place and has the “now which window is active?” flaw. And on Vista, it doesn’t even match the standard Vista look or support Aero Glass. I guess Google is trying to make the OS obsolete, but they haven’t replaced everything yet and should be a better citizen.

Keyboard accessibility is also lacking. It does provide keyboard shortcuts for some functionality, but there is currently no equivalent to Firefox find-as-you-type, nor any way to access bookmarks, options, etc. via the keyboard.

Some of the licensing terms were egregious, but they have been updated to correct that. And apparently Chrome is not immune from security flaws either. If and when these problems are resolved, I may take another look, but it isn’t compelling enough at this point.

Regarding Ultra Recall integration, copy/paste and drag/drop from the address bar or page selection was not working due to how Chrome puts data on the clipboard, but the latest release of Ultra Recall has a fix for that. As far as buttons in Chrome to import into Ultra Recall, extensions are not currently supported.

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2 Comments on “First Look at Google Chrome”

  1. Jeffrey Krzysztow Says:

    Now the Chrome does support extensions, will one be written for Ultra Recall now?

  2. kyle Says: