Last week Google released their take on an internet browser, dubbed Chrome (available here) and after some vigorous, hands on testing, we can pass an initial verdict: promising.
Google obviously had a strong design brief coming into the project, but have dipped their toes into the different browser tools to put together the features- many of the best features from the other competing browsers have made their way into Chrome, wrapped in a minimalistic design.
One of the finest features is the “Omnibar”. Similar to the AwesomeBar in Firefox, it is a smart URL textbox, which allows users to type any of the keywords from the URL and Chrome will go through your history and find the page you are after. The Omnibar takes it one step further than the AwesomeBar (even if it loses out in the ‘best name category’) and offers you completions based on the most popular sites that start with the same letter. When I typed ‘S’ into the Omnibar, not only did all the sites I had previously visited starting with ‘S’ came up, but it also suggested www.seek.com.au. We imagine as more people use the browser, it will become more powerful.
A nice feature borrowed from Safari is the Incognito mode. While browsing in this mode, history and tracking are not recorded, which can allow for safe and private browsing. While browsing (whether in private or public mode) you will have access to a full gamut of web interfaces, including (but not limited to) Ajax, Java and many video plugins.
All isn’t rosie in the land of multi coloured letters however, as many basic features are missing. An RSS reader and tabbed browser management (open too many and the names disappear) are just two features that should have been implemented in a state of the art browser.
Where Google takes the browser now is the interesting part of the equation. If Google makes inroads with a large company (say Dell) and gets Chrome installed on new computers, then perhaps we could see a new browser war with Internet Explorer. If Google is content being a fringe player, the fast majority of its user base will come from Firefox and other smaller browsers.
For a fun take on the browser experience, check out this Webcomic to see Google’s different take on a product launch.