A couple of weeks ago Google released a browser that was to be simplified, intuitive and speedier than the competition out there. Now with two weeks under my belt of using it for both work and home use. I will share what I think of it ultimately, and whether it can really compete with the big boys out there. Speed-wise this browser is definitely up there, but does it have other features that users demand?
The first thing that is obvious about Chrome is the simplicity of the browser. Gone are the textual menus at the top that have long dominated windows since Windows 95 was first thought of. The title bar at the top and the status bar at the bottom as well have been thrown out the window. Status updates will now pop up on the bottom over text when it is needed and no other time. A bar will also come up on the bottom when you are downloading something. Downloaded items will remain in this bar until you close it, and you can choose to have file types to always open or not which I have found a nice feature.
These kind of slight popups are really where the browser tends to save so much room. If you don’t need it, it won’t be there until you do. Again you see this type of attitude with the find which is kind of similar to what you find in firefox, except instead of taking the length of the window along the bottom, it takes what it needs along the top corner, a particular spot that actually keeps it out of the window that is usually important to those who are looking for something. Another thing about the search function that I particularly like is that it brings up yellow marks in the scroll bar wherever it finds the particular phrase. I felt this made it particularly useful for finding something that showed up several times on a big page but you only really needed one or two of those.
The search bar being combined into the address bar seems like a natural progression from Firefox 3.0 which added the functionality to search your history. It makes complete sense that in addition to that you could search the internet for the best result that you want and it is a welcome feature.
The lack of customization really seems to be the big complaint about the whole browser. The main emphasis has been on lack of plug-in support by others in the media, but I’m sure that will come so I don’t worry much. However, I can’t change the layout even if I wanted to. For instance, I think the address bar is too long, and would really like to shorten it and have icons for some of my commonly used links there. Sort of a quick links bar that has no text. You also have only the options of quick links bar or no quick links bar which is fine but you can’t move the position so if you wanted it on the side or above the address bar that isn’t allowed and I think it should be.
Other things I have noticed that I don’t like are relatively trivial. The being able to drag a tab out of the window is kinda cool. But then my system at work sometimes lags a bit and I end up with a window that I didn’t really want and now have to move back into a window. Another thing that I don’t care for is the lack of options to control how the browser acts. For instance, it shows up a page that says it has to resubmit a form oftentimes in places the pop-up window never occurred with other browsers. But there is no way to disable this or to narrow it down. This particular feature seems far more annoying in this browser for some reason than others.
Still though, as a saving grace to the browser, you seem to be able to view many websites that previously you could not view with Firefox and you had to download Internet Explorer for. This at work has been a boon as there were things that I needed IE for that I can now use Chrome for. It isn’t complete, like netflix movie viewing still doesn’t work, but it is nice.
Overall, I tend to think Chrome is bad for the internet. The user who is going to switch to Chrome is not the user who is still stuck on Internet Explorer for some reason. It is the person who has already converted to Firefox, and for this reason Chrome is bad. It is a great browser in its own right, but it could seriously diminish the gains that firefox has made on IE and this is a shame.
Update 9-3-10: Chrome now does have the ability to install extensions and themes to your browser to give better customization. I have finally made the full time switch to Chrome at home, but still use Firefox at work as Chrome just doesn’t work the way I need it to at work. Though I don’t like to split the user base of Firefox, I felt I had to make the move because for some reason FF has been slowing my system down of late.