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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Software Review – Google Chrome

Google recently launched their own open source browser. At first look, the browser seems really minimalist, which is the draw for many people. Not cluttered with buttons, there's nearly nothing at the top of the Chrome browser. Plus, Chrome is fast.

Some functionality that I do like, on the home page it lists your "most visited" web pages. I like the mini screen shots that appear for each one in the boxes when they start auto-populating. The concept itself seems very convenient, especially if you have frequent sites with similar names and you have to either find your bookmark for them or type most of the web address to get it to pull up in your address bar before it pulls it up.

Also, you can see that Google checked and listed my most recent bookmarks even though I haven't imported them yet into Chrome. Do I find this a little creepy? Sure, but Google sees all. Now that I've done it, importing my bookmarks was really easy, and Google also gave me options to import search engines, browsing history and all of my saved passwords, making the transition to a new browser nearly seamless.

Google Chrome also features an "incognito" mode where your browsing history and cookies will not be saved after closing the window. Google claims it's good for planning surprises and birthday gifts. Ahem. Firefox also offers this as a plug-in, and the beta version of IE8 as it as well. My biggest joy was that I can log into more than one Gmail account by having one open in an incognito window and one in the regular Chrome window. This is a HUGE deal for me because of how many Gmail accounts I use for various things and my preference to always have one of them open. Instead of being forced to open an IE7 window to achieve this, I can now open multiple within Chrome itself (or use Chrome in tandem with Firefox).

Some things that make it fun. The "OmniBox" is pretty neat. The bar at the top is a URL or search box and will do both without stopping to ask you for directions. Just type in your search term or your website and away we go. The tabs have a variety of options, and Chrome will ask you if you want to open your tabs from the last browsing session, something I LOVE for the times when I have 10 tabs open for a research-heavy transcript I'm in the middle of and want to restart or shut down to give my poor computer a break in the middle of the night. Additionally, Chrome is created to avoid crashing by running every window, tab and plug-in in its own environment. This way, if one web page has issues, you won't crash the browser and lose all your tabs.

I'd have to say I like Chrome and the features it offers, the minimalist view and it's ability to seamlessly transition from my other browsers. However, it is still a beta, and a first beta, and it's going to take a while for me to see if I'd ever give up my beloved Firefox. I can tell you that I will be using it to open my Gmail accounts and for use as a backup browser in place of IE7. As for IE8, if you think I'm downloading anything in a beta mode from Microsoft you are very mistaken. You can search for a software review of that one from somewhere else.

1 Comment:

Shelley Jo said...

That sounds really cool. I especially like the several features you mentioned liking --- being able to have several gmail accounts logged in at once and being able to re-open all the windows you had open the day before. I, too, sometimes have multiple things open that I don't get to read within a busy day. but sometimes my system is begging to be shut down!!