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Google Chrome

22nd April 2011 | Google Chrome

The first web browser I used was Netscape 3, then soon picked up Netscape 4. During the height of the 90s Browser Wars, I kept a far distance from the other browser, signified by a blue E. When Mac OS X was first released, the choice of native web browsers was fairly limited. While I impatiently waited for Netscape to port their browser to Mac OS X, I searched for alternatives and ended up settling with OmniWeb 4.

This was the beginning of a long relationship with a very functional and flexible browser. I even purchased two licenses for the product, I liked it that much, which is unusual for a product landscape that contains many capable and free browsers. Sadly, the Omnigroup's attention for OmniWeb has waned over the past several years (so they can spend their time on products which actually make money to keep the business alive). I still use OmniWeb as my Power Browser, but as the Web progresses, and new and existing browsers continue evolving, OmniWeb hasn't been able to keep up with the times. I have been experimenting with other web browsers. Safari 5 finally added support for some extensions, but even the extensions seem somewhat limited. Safari is a great browser, which I've used as my Quick Browser when I just want to get in and out, but I miss the flexibility and power that OmniWeb has offered. I then tried Firefox, which is my favorite browser when using Windows. Due to its cross-platform nature, there are a few things which don't feel "quite right". It's a good browser, and the flexibility is good. However, when I upgraded to Firefox 4, I was finding that the browser locked up once a day (an issue I was not seeing with Firefox 3.6). This was getting very annoying, so I took another look at Google Chrome.

I had looked at earlier versions of Google Chrome in the past, but its stripped down, minimalistic appearance initially turned me off. I liked having lots of flexibility and power in my browser. The unified address-search bar seemed to be a step back : that's how OmniWeb 4 used to handle things before OmniWeb 5 added the search bar. However, after using Chrome for the past week, I am greatly impressed. There are many little things which make the browsing experience feel "just right".

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Minimalistic interface
  • Stable — Not a single crash, yet
  • Google Translation
  • Good HTML5 support — I noticed that OmniWeb 5 was not handling some of the image animations at kickoff.app very well, but Safari 5 and Google Chrome handled it like a charm.
  • Accessing downloaded files — Easier to access the downloaded file options than either Safari or Firefox. Somewhat similar to Transmit 4's new approach for displaying the file transfer window.
  • Paste and Go — This is one feature I really liked from Opera.
  • Adding Bookmarks — Remembers the last folder where a bookmark was saved (unlike Firefox), which simplifies saving many bookmarks.
  • Inline PDF Reader — Viewing a PDF on a Mac should not require opening Preview (like Firefox does). Just view the PDF inside the browser.

Cons:

  • Somewhat difficult to grab the title bar if there are a lot of tabs
  • Bookmarks didn't import from Firefox 4
  • No separate search field — Despite this, the unified address-search bar works pretty well, especially since half the time I was doing a search, anyway.
  • Tab crunch — If too many tabs are open in one window, the tabs just keep getting smaller and smaller. Safari and Firefox handle this issue better.
  • Built-in Flash — On occasions the built-in Flash plug-in runs amock and takes up more than 50% of the CPU and causes my laptop's fans to go into high gear.
  • Slow to close — If many tabs are open, Chrome can take several minutes to shut down.