Tag Archives | Chrome

10 Observations About Google’s I/O Keynote

One of many giant Androids towering over the human attendees at Google I/O at San Francisco's Moscone Center

One of many giant Androids towering over the human attendees at Google I/O at San Francisco’s Moscone Center

If you’re looking for a good straightforward recap of the news which Google made during its I/O keynote on Wednesday morning, stop reading this post. Instead, head over to Mat Honan’s fine summary over at Wired. And then, if you’re still interested in the topic, come back here for my initial musings.

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Google Ships Chrome 1.0–Now For the To-Do List

chromebox1Well, that was quick! Yesterday, my colleague Dave Worthington wrote about the news that Google planned to take its Chrome browser out of beta soon. Soon, it turns out, is right now. The little “BETA” label is gone from the Chrome logo, and you can download version 1.0 from the Chrome site. Assuming, that is, that you’re using Windows.

And unless you’ve got an inexplicable aversion to cool new software, I recommend that you do spend some time with Chrome. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was possible to bring so much new thinking to a Web browser circa 2008–especially without adding much in the way of new features. But Chrome is fun, zippy, and practical. If it were a car (I hate automotive metaphors in tech journalism, but can’t help myself) it might be something like this.

When I met with one of the people in charge of Chrome a month ago, he told me that Chrome would ship when it displayed Web pages properly and was sufficiently reliable, not when Google had added every feature on its to-do list. Chrome in its 1.0 version reflect that: It’s got far fewer features than Firefox, Flock, IE, Opera, or Safari, and I’m sure some folks will come away disappointed simply because it’s ultimately pretty basic. The Google blog post on today’s news mentions two upcoming features: form autofill (I’m a little surprised the browser came out of beta without it) and RSS. And it reaffirms its intention to release versions for Mac and Linux versions without revealing a timetable.

Google says it has plans to add lots more stuff to Chrome; that’s good news, although the browser’s streamlined, no-muss-no-fuss personality is so pleasing that the company will have to work hard not to bloat it up over time. I do, however, have a little list of new features that I hope are on Google’s Chrome agenda.

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Report: Google Polishes Off Chrome

chromelogo2The browser was are heating up– again. Google vice president Marissa Mayer said that company’s Chrome browser is on the verge of coming out of beta, according to a report by TechCrunch. Chrome made its debut as a beta on September 2nd; for Google, a beta period of only a few months is a surprisingly short one.

Google’s applications are a likely vehicle for distributing Chrome, with Apple having paved the way for more aggressive bundling by tethering distribution of Safari to iTunes. There is also plenty of potential for high-profile promotion of Chrome at Google’s wildly popular Web properties, and the company has several hardware partners that could pre-load the browser on PCs.

Chrome is the bedrock for Google’s whole Web application platform. Its pillars are speed and stability: Chrome’s zippy JavaScript engine is at the top of the class, and its use of separate processes for browser tabs and windows can make browsing more reliable.

The arrival of Chrome has also pressured other browser makers such as Firefox to accelerate the performance of their JavaScript engines–making Google’s applications perform better across the board.

Google will be leveraging Chrome to deliver the open source Native Client project, a plug-in that permits Web applications to directly access hardware resources. Let’s hope that Native Client is effectively sandboxed so it can’t be abused by hackers, so we don’t revisit the bad old days of the ubiquitous ActiveX exploit. The more Google can blur the lines between client applications and Web applications, the more competitive it will be against entrenched software. CPU intensive software will no longer have to run on the desktop. The concept of what type of application a Web application can be would be drastically changed.

Chrome is based upon the WebKit open source project, making it easier for developers to make their sites and services Chrome-friendly, because it is not something entirely new. Google is likewise providing a framework for the development of secure Firefox-like extensions for Chome. Developers could very well fall in love with Chrome, but with technologies and tools from Adobe, Microsoft, Sun, and others in the mix, not to mention HTML 5, they may have to pick their side of the battlefield. You can see why it’s in Google’s best interest to release a Chrome that’s ready for prime time sooner rather than later.


State of the Browser Betas: A Technologizer Cheat Sheet

cheatsheetI’m hesitant to make any bold predictions about what 2009 will hold for technology, but this one seems profoundly safe: a lot of Web browser upgrades will ship. That’s because new versions of the current big five–Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera, and Safari–are all in various stages of progress. And prerelease versions all except Safari are available for download right now. After the jump, a quick guide to what’s up with each of them. If you’ve been using any (or all!) of them, let us know what you think…

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Google Answers Your Chrome Questions

chromelogo6I spent much of yesterday at Google, visiting with several teams to learn what they’ve been working on lately. I came with a little list of questions in my pocket–ones that members of the Technologizer community threw out when I said I was headed to the Googleplex. And while there were some good questions that just weren’t appropriate for the Google reps I met with, I did pose several community-supplied queries to Brian Rakowski, a Google product management director who works on the Chrome browser. Questions and answers after the jump…

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The Trouble(s) With Google Chrome’s Security

It’s been more than a month since Google Chrome first hit our desktops. The blogosphere is still pondering its features and performance, and making predictions about Google’s future in the browser business. But amidst all of the commentary about Google’s latest venture, very few have taken the time to examine the new browser’s security. Browser-based attacks in the form of phishing expeditions, cross-site scripting, plug-in exploits, and other techniques should give even the most tech savvy among us pause when considering which browser to make the workhorse of our daily online activities. A significant number of users have chosen Chrome–but the security measures Google has implemented in Chrome are subpar for a modern browser.

There are many simple steps that Chrome could take to further protect its users. To be fair, many of the complaints I have could also be directed at Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari, so I’ve decided to break things down into a feature-by-feature comparison.

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Holy Cow! It’s Chrome for the Mac! Right Now! Sort of!

For all you Macintosh freaks itching to try Google’s Chrome browser, the good news is that Google is working on a Mac version (as well as one for Linux). The bad news is that it’s not saying when it’ll arrive, even though cofounder Sergey Brin is supposedly just itching to get his hands one one. And the surprising news is that CodeWeavers beat Google to it.

Well, not exactly, but it’s still pretty entertaining. Chrome may be a Google product, but it’s Google’s version of an open-source project that the company initiated. The open-source version is called Chromium. And CodeWeavers, which produces software based on Wine, the open-source system for running Windows apps without Windows, decided to try its hand at using WINE to create Mac and Linux versions of Chromium. Both are now available for download. I snagged the Mac version, which takes a few minutes to initiate itself once you’ve downloaded and installed the program. And here it is, looking like the Chrome I’ve been using in Windows. (Actually, looking a bit too much like the Windows version: Those are Windows minimize/maximize/close buttons, not Mac ones.)

In answer to the question “Should I run CrossOver Chromium as my main browser?”, CodeWeavers’ FAQ provides a succinct and honest answer: “Absolutely not! This is just a proof of concept, for fun, and to showcase what Wine can do.”  You only need to spend a few minutes with CrossOver Chromium to see that CodeWeavers isn’t being inappropriately modest–fonts and formatting are kind of messed up, and if there’s a way to get Flash working, I haven’t figured it out. As the CodeWeavers blog points out, CrossOver Chromium can’t auto-update itself with security fixes, as Chrome can. And another sign of its Windows origins is the fact that it offers to import bookmarks and other settings from Internet Explorer–even though IE for the Mac is defunct, and Safari is the browser that a new Mac browser would appropriately ask about importing from.

It’s also unclear from CodeWeavers’ blog and FAQ whether it intends to refine CrossOver Chromium or leave it as is. Presumably that’s hard to say: If Google releases Chrome for Mac soon, CrossOver Chromium becomes redundant. But if it’s months and months before Chrome for Mac shows up, CodeWeavers’ browser might have an audience. If the company polishes it up…a lot.

For now, CrossOver Chromium is really a software toy that you’ll likely use for just a few minutes, then put away. But it is fun. And it does whet my appetite for a Mac version of Chrome–one, I hope, that’s even more fully evolved than the Windows one is at this early point in its existence.


Project Fakebar: Improvising a Google Toolbar Substitute for Chrome

Two days ago, I mentioned that the wildly popular, extremely useful Google Toolbar didn’t work in Google’s Chrome browser. I said I missed it. So do  legions of other people, judging from the thousands of Toolbar fans who have read that post, and the 140 who have commented on it so far. Who knew that a humble toolbar could be so beloved?

I think it’s pretty much a given that Google will eventually either release a Toolbar for Chrome or essentially build in all of its functionality. But it’ll only happen on Google’s timetable, and I suspect it isn’t priority #1. And while Toolbar is cool, it’s not exactly advanced technology–what it does, mostly, is to provide fast access to various Google services.

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