Google Chrome – A new kind of browser
A day late, but that gave me the chance to test out Google Chrome for myself. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much, but Google has always had a way of doing that. To start off with, the entire interface is different from any other browser. It doesn’t even have the normal title bar. They basically (literally actually) started from scratch when they created this application. Google definitely just made the browser wars more interesting.
Going against their normal routine, they made Chrome open source. I’m not complaining at all, but it surprised the hell out of me. If that’s not enough, they’re encouraging others (Mozilla for example) to use Chrome’s code to make their browser better. So even if you’re not going to use Chrome, you will still benefit from it’s release.
Vegetable juice aside, the interface is amazing, even if it isn’t currently customizable. The title bar has been removed and the tab bar is it’s replacement. The unneeded icons have been scrapped leaving only Back, Forward, Refresh, Home (hidden by default), Favorite (star – similar to Firefox), Go (Stop when the current tab is loading), Page (similar to file menu), and Chrome (preferences, history, downloads, etc). If that isn’t enough, they wanted to go without the bookmarks toolbar, but the guinea pigs wanted to keep it. Thank God for that… I’m not sure what I would have done without it. Other than what I’ve mentioned so far, the only other thing visible on Chrome is the scroll bar. Yes, that’s right, there isn’t a status bar. But don’t you fear! The folks at Google have a bubble pop up (where the status bar should be) when you mouse over a link to let you know where it leads. The entire interface is spectacular, to say the least.
I remember the first time I used tabs in all of their glory. It wasn’t in a browser, but rather an editor. One of my favorite features was the ability to drag tabs to different positions on the tab bar. Well, once again, Chrome proved that everything can be improved upon. In chrome, not only can you drag-and-drop tabs to different positions on the tab bar, but you can drag them into their own windows… and back again. You can even drag them into other windows. Not only does Chrome offer these wonderful features, but it provides them with beautiful (although basic) animations. Instead of just showing an arrow when moving the tab, it actually drags the tab (and shifts the others). And when you drag the tab into it’s own window, it shows the page itself (see screenshot). And if you’re ever worried about how much memory these fancy features are using, Chrome provides the details for you.
Now that I’ve explained the big features of Chrome, let me point out a few of the smaller ones. First off, the location bar is color coded. No, I don’t mean pink for one website and yellow for another. The URI itself is split into parts and colored accordingly. HTTPS is green while HTTP is a light gray. That’s no big deal though, since Firefox and other browsers have had a similar feature for ages. The reason I’m even bringing up the color coding is because they didn’t stop at HTTP/HTTPS. The entire URI is in a light gray except HTTPS and the domain name itself. For an example, I’ll use https://mail.google.com/mail/. HTTPS is green, :// is light gray, mail.google.com is black, and /mail/ is light gray. It doesn’t seem like much, but it helps to point out phishing sites before they’re reported as such. You know what I’m talking about. The sites that use domains such as msn.com.somepage.net. People tend to look at the begining of a URI and see msn.com. They then proceed to type in their password and lose their account. With the color coding though, they’ll begin to look at the black text instead of the beginning. That way, msn.com.somepage.net will stick out instead of msn.com.
If you aren’t sold yet, Chrome also allows you to search from your navigation bar. Sure, you might be able to do that now, but Chrome allows you to type in a domain (facebook.com for example) and immediately offers you the choice to go to the site or search it. If you want to go to it, you hit enter. If you want to search, simply hit tab. This only works on sites that have their own search feature (if you can add it to Firefox’s list of search engines, you can search it in Chrome).
All in all, I feel Google has upped the ante for what a browser should be. And with Chrome’s use of WebKit, we should see a lot of improvements to that as well. If nothing else, the release of Chrome has brought us into another phase of the browser wars.