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Google Chrome

posted 13 Mar 2010, 12:17 by Atharva Inamdar   [ updated 13 Mar 2010, 12:36 ]

11/09/2008

Google Chrome Review coming soon! Watch this space!

A Web Browser from Google. Bound to be simple, clutter free and extremely easy to use. My first thought? Firefox made by Google. Correct and incorrect. 

First thoughts on downloading and installing. Very Quick install. As soon as it finishes install, an option for for importing bookmarks and settings from Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer pops up. The browser window itself is very clean. Most of the space is available for the web pages themselves. There is no standard menu bar, just the tab bar and address bar. The tab bar has a "+" (Open new tab) button at the end of the tab chain. The address bar or the Navigation bar has the usual navigation buttons, Back, Forward, Home, Reload, Add to Favourites, Go To/Stop, Page Control and Chrome Options. A Bookmarks toolbar also exits but needs to be enabled from the options.

Google Chrome, although a Beta product, is a very usable product. It comes with all the basic features one would expect including search engine management. Some advanced features such as downloads management, tabs management, network management and offline storage management need to be improved or added. 

User experience is much better than the more popular browsers. Pages seem to load faster, environment seems more productive (less distractions by status bar and simple use of address bar for suggestions and search. It should be noted that although the status bar exists it auto hides when inactive. thus once the webpage is loaded the status bar is hidden. An excellent feature called the "Incognito Mode" leaves no traces of your web activity anywhere on your computer. 

There are a few minor features that are helpful and some are annoying. One thing you cannot have is a empty tab, so as to say if the tab bar has only one tab and you close it Chrome exits. To load a link in new tab, one has to right click and select the option. Unlike firefox middle click does not work. Smooth scrolling is not a feature that is offered so scrolling down long pages is jerky. In fact, each scroll is half page scroll. Another good feature is related to text boxes. the focused text box appears with a highlighted orange border which catches the the users eye immediately. Some text boxes can also be resized by dragging the bottom right corner marked with dots. This allows the user to view their writing in full without having the annoying scrollbars.

A wonderful but can be annoying and useless feature is Application Shortcuts. This allows users to create shortcuts of websites on their Desktop, Quick Launch toolbar and Start menu. this is usefull especially in a academic environment where the intranet is used most of the time or if a user wants direct access to a webpage from the desktop. (alternative to changing homepage if only one shortcut is used). When opening this Application shortcut, Google Chrome tweaks the UI a little. The tab bar is hidden along with the navigation bar. A compact drop down menu appears next to the page title at the top instead. This includes only basic functions such as Back, Forward, Reload, Encoding, Close, etc. The webpage icon also doubles as a page load indicator. 

A feature that needs adding is Ad-blocking. This would be slightly controversial if Google did not add this feature or allowed Google Ads. Whatever the view, I myself block a lot of Ads on pages especially graphics and flash objects.  I casually browsed to HSBC UK website and navigated to the login page.The password management UI is similar to Firefox and even the "dialog" or saving passwords is similar. For Example, When the user enter their username and password and logs into a secure website, a information bar drops down from beneath the Navigation bar showing options such as "Save Password" and "Never for this site". As you may realise there is no option for "Not Now" like in Firefox. This is a minor issue and negligible from my point of view. When multiple tabs are open and a user presses Alt-F4, Chrome quits without any warning message or dialog asking for confirmation to quit browser. I believe adding this feature is useful as users might accidentally quit browser without saving thier work.

All in all, Google Chrome is a worthy competitor for the browser market albeit the missing features of addons or plugins as firefox. It is also suitable for HTPCs, or PCs with low hardware specs and not much disk space. Quick load times with a relatively low memory footprint. Google Chrome is also easy to learn for people just getting onto the Internet or learning about Web Browsers.

A Gallery of screen shots is available here.

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