By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 1:51 pm
(VITAL UPDATE! If you came here looking for a Google Toolbar for Chrome, the bad news is that there isn’t one. The slightly less bad news is that it’s possible to construct a rough approximation–I explain how to do so in this post.)
(UPDATE! I’m conducting a poll about Chrome–please go here to take it, and to get a recap of all of Technologizer’s Chrome coverage.)
I don’t have any numbers, but I suspect it’s a safe bet that Google’s most widely-used application to date is the Google Toolbar. It’s available for IE and Firefox, and integrates either of those browsers with multiple Google services, including Gmail, online Google Bookmarks, and Google Maps. It’s also got other handy features like a spell checker, a form filler, and the ability to send links to pages via Gmail or SMS.
You might assume that Google’s new Chrome browser would come with Toolbar built in–or even if it didn’t put all of its features into the browser in toolbar form, replicate some or all of them elsewhere in the interface. But based on my first couple of hours with Chrome, it looks like just about none of Toolbar’s features are available in Chrome. Even ones that seem like naturals, such as quick access to your Gmail inbox and Google Bookmarks.
How about installing Toolbar in Chrome? Chrome has a framework for extensions, so I thought it was possible that I could do so. I visited the Toolbar download page, and noticed that it seemed to think I was using Firefox. But I tried anyway, and was sent to a page that asked me to agree to the Toolbar terms and conditions before installing. I did so. And at that point, I got this message:
In other words, not only is there no Toolbar for Chrome, but the Toolbar download site gets totally flummoxed when you visit it in Chrome; it shows no signs that it knows that Google has a browser of its own.
One of the most fascinating things about Chrome is the potential it opens up for Google to deeply integrate its myriad services with a browser in a way that’s never been done before. Depending on your outlook, that’s either tremendously exciting or kind of scary. (Or, come to think of it, both.) Getting access to Google Toolbar’s features in Chrome, one way or another, would be neither exciting nor scary–just useful. I hope it happens soon–and that Google fiddles with the Toolbar download site to at least acknowledge Chrome’s existence…
(ADDITIONAL SELF-SERVING PLUG: If you want a stopgap until there’s a real Google Toolbar for Chrome, check out my instructions for creating a Google Fakebar.)