Chrome – first impressions

Google released its browser, Chrome, in official beta yesterday. Accompanied by the story of its creation, illustrating how user considerations and computing resource use were taken into account to produce a more satisfying product.

Here are my first impressions, using Chrome on my Windows XP PC.

The browser loads very swiftly, unlike Firefox 3 which takes a finite and noticeable amount of time to start up. Good for cloud computing going mainstream, says Om Malik. The interface is clean although it takes up the whole screen which is an aesthetic adjustment that may require time to get used to. One-clickto change sizing and two-click to change font is a welcome feature. It uses far less – nearly 1/6 in a like-for-like-tabs-open situation – memory than Firefox 3. Built-in incognito surfing does away with the need for add-ons such as Distrust.

But where is the magic?

Chrome is mouse-friendly, definitely but I am a keyboard type person and will need to learn shortcuts. Here are things that have so far not been to my liking.

The password-save is an either-or option, that is, ‘save’ or ‘never save’. The granularity in Firefox 3’s offer to save or not to save for some sites is missed. Just like Firefox 3, there is the irksome – to me, may not be to others – dropdown. The suggestions are not always apt or tailored. Typing ‘tw’ offers ‘Twitter but when you extend it to ‘twi’, the offer is for TWI and Twitter is not seen in the top 5 recommendations. Most recommendations are for .com businesses and none for, even though I am accessing from the UK. It reminds me of Amazon’s recommendations. You buy one book on tax planning and then it will offer you, ad nauseum, all the books on tax planning you never wanted. There should be an option to switch this feature off or at least customise it in some way. I also noticed that the Favicons do not appear on the leading edge of the URL box, but on tabs. This is a change but not materially important.

I tested some sites for relative loading speeds too. I noticed Yahoo mail loads slower than Gmail, and New York Times loads faster than BBC News, Twitter is noticeably slower on Chrome than on Firefox 3. I then found all my banking related websites load at the same perceptible speed as Firefox 3.

From a business perspective, I cannot help but wonder about ‘add-ons’. There is no evidence that Google is working to create a community of developers who are racing to offer add-ons. Is this just the not-invented-here syndrome at work, or do we have to wait for more announcements?

I am still looking for the answer to the question ‘where is the magic?’.

Additional reading:

Security flaw in Chrome from ReadWriteWeb

Om Malik on Chrome and Cloud Computing

Late addition:

Google changes EULA

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