Early thoughts on Google’s latest Beta
Having used Google’s Chrome browser for about 24 hours now, I’d like to offer some early conclusions. Obviously, there is a lot being written about the latest entrant to the user agent game, and I’ll react to some of the reaction too.
First things first: that radical user interface. Maybe I’m stuck in my ways, not forward-thinking enough, but Chrome’s UI really bugs me. Here’s why:
If not a hugely revolutionary idea, it’s certainly a useful one. I haven’t been using the browser quite long enough to fully gauge this, but it does seem as though I’ll save a lot of time typing out those favourite and recent URLs. It’s very quick to hit CTRL+t, then TAB to the desired site and hit ENTER, although cursor-key-control would make this even faster.
The ease at which I can rip off a tab into its own window, then pull that tab back in later is glorious. One day this will be a standard feature of the OS; in the meantime Google Chrome gets this pretty much spot on. The only slight snag is the difficulty in moving tabs between two existing Chrome windows, but I guess we can’t have everything.
I’m really wondering who Google’s browser is aimed at, and whether they’ll be able to make significant inroads into a market in which Firefox has taken roughly 4 years to get about 16% market share. Having said that, I guess if anyone can have an impact, Google can. I get the impression that many serious web users will avoid Chrome in a fit of paranoia. And, as we all know, the uber-newbies will struggle to install a piece of software, however simple that process is. Until Chrome comes pre-installed, I’d be surprised if it makes a significant impact.
From a CSS / rendering point of view, Chrome is Safari. So, my interest here is struggling, except for the fact that cross-browser rendering will see a slight increase in importance. Perversely, I kinda wish Google had actually introduced a new rendering engine into the mix, but I guess Google will be (and have been?) contributing to the WebKit codebase, and improving standards-support, which can only be a Good Thing.
I know it’s only a ‘beta’, and this is the result of an appallingly bad connection I’m forced to use, but the following made me chuckle:
The appearance of ‘null’ in an error message is a sure sign of pretty sloppy programming, and “Unknown error” messages are universally derided. Note that the ‘plus’ icon also fails to change in reaction to whether that section’s open or closed.
about:memory has great potential, and really gives the impression that web applications are the way forward. It could do with updating automatically from time-to-time, though; presently, it appears to require a manual refresh. Less useful is the ‘application shortcut’ feature, which (apparently) does nothing other than removing toolbars, etc.
As pointed out elsewhere, Chrome has no RSS-rendering capability whatsoever. Bizarre. Is this just a recognition that RSS still hasn’t reached mainstream acceptance?
#1 OK, it’s under the ‘spanner’ icon, all the way to the right, but this is yet another IE rip-off that really throws me. Since when did menus dropping down from icons become better than menus dropping down from words that actually mean something (to an extent)? I still can’t find out how to open a file without using the keyboard.