Tag Archives | Google Chrome

Chrome: Faster Than Safari?

Now that the first beta of Google’s Chrome browser for OS X is out, Google is telling Mac users about it. At the moment, it’s doing so via a promotional dialog box which I’m seeing near the upper right-hand corner of the Google home page in both Safari and Firefox. One that’s about as splashy and pushy as anything Google ever puts there.

Faster than what? The logical assumption is that Google’s saying it’s faster than the browser you’re using now. I haven’t seen any browser benchmarks from the company–comprehensive or otherwise–but when I ran the SunSpider JavaScript test on all the major OS X browsers, Safari performed best. As I said in that story, it was essentially a wash with Chrome (Firefox 3.5 was considerably slower). The test only tells you so much about browser performance.  And maybe Google, like Microsoft, is saying that “fast” is about more than traditional speed tests.

But I remain curious: Is Google specifically saying that Chrome for OS X is a faster browser than Safari? (Apple still touts Safari as “the world’s fastest browser,” although as far as I know, it hasn’t compared Safari to the Chrome beta.)


Chrome on OS X=More Chrome Users

Over at Computerworld, Gregg Keizer is reporting on new browser stats from Net Applications that show Chrome overtaking Safari as the #3 browser last week, presumably as a result of the launch of the first beta of Chrome for OS X. For last week, 4.4 percent of people in Net Application’s pool used Chrome, a leap of .4 percent. That puts it above Safari’s 4.37 percent, but it’s a squeaker.

To satisfy my own curiosity, I checked out the same numbers for Technologizer visitors.

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Chrome for Mac–Finally!

After what seems like a lifetime of waiting–but was really a little over fifteen months–Mac users can finally get their hands on a beta version of Google’s Chrome browser. Many of us have been running various rough drafts of OS X Chrome and its open-source cousin, Chromium, for months. But this is the first one that Google deems to be finished enough for wide use. And it’s part of a big Chrome news day that also includes betas of a Linux version and Firefox-like extensions.

But Chrome for OS X is missing some of the key features that make Chrome’s Windows version such a distinctive browser, including App Mode and built-in Gears offline technology. It also doesn’t yet support Chrome’s new extensions feature. And the user-interface doesn’t match the delightful minimalism of Chrome for Windows. It’s partially OS X’s fault, since Mac apps are required to have a traditional menu bar with several obligatory menus. But I still pine for the way Chrome for Windows brings the tabs up to the very top of the screen, and tucks all options into a grand total of two menus.

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Faded Chrome: Google’s Incomplete Mac Browser

If you use a Mac and have been looking forward to an OS X version of Google’s Chrome browser, your patience is about to be rewarded. As TechCrunch’s MG Siegler reports, the Chrome team is stomping out the final handful of bugs it’s planning to eradicate before it ships its first OS X beta. I’ve been waiting for the beta for fifteen months, since the arrival of Chrome for Windows and the first word that a Mac version was in the works.

But MG’s story left me feeling kind of glum about Chrome for OS X. He details some of the features that the first beta will lack, at least in complete form:

  • The bookmark manager
  • App Mode, which lets you launch Web apps such as Gmail in streamlined browser frames from a desktop icon
  • Gears, the Google technology that lets Gmail, Remember the Milk, and other Web services work even when you’re disconnected from the Web
  • Full-screen mode
  • Bookmark syncing
  • Extension  support

And I’ve already grumbled about the fact that Chrome for OS X inexplicably needs nine menus to accomplish what Chrome for Windows does in two of ’em. Basically, it looks like multiple things that I thought made Chrome Chrome will be missing from its Mac incarnation.

I don’t mean to be too churlish–especially since some of the missing stuff may get added back in before Mac Chrome leaves beta status and becomes an officially shipping project. I’d love to see Chrome reach feature parity on both platforms soon, in the way that Firefox is just Firefox, whether you’re in Windows, OS X, or Linux. Or at least to get the word that parity is the long-term goal.

For now, Chrome is my main browser when I’m in Windows (which I am the majority of the time at the moment) and I’ll still reach for Safari when I’m on a Mac. I’m okay with that, since I tend to be a promiscuous browser user anyhow. (I’ve also gone through Firefox and Flock periods recently, and dabble in Opera from time to time.)

But if you’d told me fifteen months ago that it would still be unclear in late 2009 when Mac users would get all of Chrome’s goodness, I would never have believed you…


Chrome for Mac, Finally Within Sight?

Mac on ChromeOver at Cnet, Steven Shankland has taken notice of some info on a mailing list for Google Chrome developers that suggests that Google’s browser may arrive in an OS X beta in early December. If so, fifteen months will have passed between Chrome’s Windows debut and its appearance on the Mac. (Developer versions of Chrome and its open-source doppelganger Chromium for Mac have been around for quite awhile, but the most recent ones I’ve tried have been almost ready for prime time–but not quite.)

I still don’t understand why Chrome for Windows has an admirably sleek two menus, and Chrome for Mac needs nine of ’em. Other than that little mystery, I’m very much looking forward to Chrome finally becoming a cross-platform browser.


Chrome for Mac: Not Here Yet, But Use It Anyway

Sergey Brin

Here at the Web 2.0 Summit, a surprise guest dropped by this afternoon to be interviewed by cochair John Battelle: Google cofounder Sergey Brin. An audience member asked him a question that was on my mind, too: Exactly what’s going on with Google Chrome for the Mac, which still hasn’t shipped well over a year after the Windows version debuted?

Install Google ChromeBrin didn’t get defensive: “The timing…has been one of the disappointments of the Chrome project for me,” he said. (Then he said he was sorry the Windows and Mac versions hadn’t shipped simultaneously.) He also noted that he’s using Chrome for Mac himself in pre-release these days–even though it crashes more than he’d like. At another conference last week, I saw Google VP Bradley Horowitz using Chrome on a Mac, too; I suspect that there are legions of Chrome for Mac users at the Googleplex.

As Brin noted, Google doesn’t make it easy to find the pre-release version of Chrome for Mac–actually, it actively discourages non-developers from doing so. But he encouraged those in the audience here who were jonesing for Mac Chrome to download and use it. You can do so here.

Sergey’s right: Chrome for Mac is useful right now, but still needs work. My main problem with it is that it occasionally fails to load sites until I’ve pressed refresh a few times. I also can’t figure out why the Mac version of the browser has nine menus, vs. two in the Windows edition; it rankles me a bit, since Chrome’s outstanding quality is its simplicity. Even so, I’m spending a fair amount of time with this rough draft–when I’m on a Mac, I use it maybe a third of the time. But I’m still champing at the bit to get a version that’s truly ready for prime time. In 2009 if possible…


What is This “Browser” of Which You Speak?

Can you convince someone who doesn’t even know what a Web browser is to switch to a new one? Google appears to be trying, with a new Web site and video, which I learned about in this post by MG Siegler.

The site is, of course, a thinly-veiled promotional vehicle for Google Chrome. Although it’s an extremely soft sell–and since there’s no shipping version of Chrome for the Mac yet, the version of the site I just perused on my MacBook Pro has links to Opera, Safari, and Firefox (but not Flock or Camino, alas).

The video’s narrator says that most people don’t know what browser they’re running, or what a browser is. Can that possibly be true? Did Google do research on the matter? I dunno. But I do know that there are such people as folks who use computers every day but simply aren’t interested enough in technology to keep track of such things. One of the smartest people I know thinks her browser is Google. (Hint: She gave birth to me.)

Another question: How many people who are only dimly aware at best just what a Web browser is know how to download and install a new one, as Google suggests?

Alternative theory: Even if Google is serious about the idea that many folks don’t dump IE because they don’t know they’re using it, maybe the site and video–which are either soothing and straightforward or patronizing, depending on how you look at them–are meant more as goofy fun and a conversation-starter than as sincere outreach to the Web’s most blissfully ignorant users.


Google Burrows into Internet Explorer

Google ExplorerToday, Google announced a plug-in for Internet Explorer that usurps the IE browsing engine’s role, rendering pages with Google Chrome instead. The plug-in, called Google Chrome Frame, targets Web developers who must program around IE 6’s proprietary quirks.

Internet Explorer remains the world’s dominant Web browser, but many of its users are running archaic versions of the software –to the frustration of Microsoft and its critics alike. Older versions of the browser do not support the latest standards, hindering what users can do on the Web.

Google argues that Chrome’s Webkit and JavaScript engines will seamlessly bring IE up to par, awhile preserving the interface that people are accustomed to in IE 6 and IE 7. Microsoft has largely solved its issues with standards support with IE 8, but Google Frame targets it as well.

Of course people will have to install the plug-in, which requires a 10MB download. Web developers will also have to modify their HTML code to invoke the plug-in. Nonetheless, it’s a new approach to getting people to upgrade their browsers.

Google is using an attrition strategy to bring IE users on board with Chrome. I could not imagine why any corporate IT folks would install this plug-in; they keep IE installed for compatibility reasons. Microsoft has also enabled legacy support in IE 8.

Google Chrome Frame is a neat technology, but I don’t expect that your mother will end up using it unless it is bundled with software that people widely use. Google might attempt to leverage its Web properties, but many people are a creature of habit. My father is still using AOL, and my attempt to move him to Gmail failed.

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Google Chrome Turns One: A Few Questions and Answers

Chrome BirthdayOne year ago today, Google released Chrome, a day after the news–at once startling and inevitable-feeling–leaked that it had decided to get into the browser business. (Lest we forget, Chrome remains the only major software product ever to be announced via comic book.)

Back on September 1st, 2008, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to try Chrome and knew very little about it, but was so excited about the news that I cranked out a post called Ten Questions About Google Chrome. A year later, it’s easier to answer most of them. Shall we? (I skipped recapping question #3, which involved me wondering whether Google had given Mozilla a heads-up it was working on a browser.)

1. Will Google stop promoting Firefox? It’s been known to use the Google homepage to tell IE users they should be running Firefox, and it distributes a version of Firefox with the Google Toolbar built in. You gotta think that it’ll redeploy some or all of its Firefox-boosting energies to drumming up interest in Chrome.

One year later: Yeah, it stopped promoting Firefox. The companies still have a mutually beneficial relationship, since Google remains Firefox’s default search engine, and revenues from the ads displayed with search results helps fund Firefox development. And you can still get Firefox–optionally–as part of Google Pack. But Chrome is now Pack’s default browser, and there’s no question which product Google is rooting for in Browser War 2.0. (Hint: It’s the one with “Google” in its name.)

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Sony Adds a Little Chrome to the VAIO

Sony ChromeIf you buy a new Sony VAIO computer, you’re going to get a new browser. No, Internet Explorer isn’t going anywhere. But Financial Times is reporting that Sony has signed a deal to preinstall Google’s Chrome on its PCs. Chrome-equipped machines are making their way to customers even as we speak.

I’m not sure whether Chrome is now the default browser on new Sony computers–the FT doesn’t explicitly say so, although Download Squad does–but it’s an interesting development. For years, Microsoft has benefited hugely from the fact that IE is the default browser shipped on most of the world’s personal computers. Some folks discover IE this way and continue to use it because they like it; many others keep on running it out of sheer inertia.

Sony is only one manufacturer, but the FT reports that Google says it’s working on similar arrangements with other companies. What if it were able to strike deals with, say, HP, Dell, and Acer? Maybe by cutting them in on the advertising revenue it gets from searches performed with Chrome’s toolbar and default homepage?

For a browser that’s nearly a year old and which is backed by the most powerful company on the Web, Chrome has failed to catch show explosive growth–Ars Technica says that around two or three percent of Internet users run it. (The Technologizer community is apparently a lot fonder of Chrome than the Internet at large–about eight percent of you visit the site via Chrome.) It’s still not entirely clear to me whether Google sees Chrome as a side project, a prank, or a core component of its mission. And it can’t pummel IE into submission until it’s caught up with Firefox (which, according to a new report, is used by more than 23% of all Internet users). But if any browser company is in a position to nudge IE out of its position as the world’s default browser, it’s Chrome.

Meanwhile, I kind of like the system Microsoft came up with to pacify Europe’s concerns over IE: a ballot screen that lets Windows 7 users pick whatever browser they prefer. Wouldn’t it be cool if Chrome, Firefox, Flock, IE, Opera, Rockmelt, Safari, and any other worthwhile browser that came along all got an equal shot at being the world’s most popular browser–based on quality alone?