Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Google Chrome 18

Chrome 12            DOWNLOAD GOOGLE CHROME 18
The Good

Just as I did in the Firefox 12.0 review, I am not going to enumerate all the features available and I'm sure this is not what users want, so I will just list some pro and cons and let the users decide.

The main reason people use Google Chrome is because it looks simple and light. I say looks because Google knew what they were doing. I wouldn't put it past them to hire some guys who had only one job, to make the interface as simple and as functional as possible.

They did it. If you come from Firefox, Opera or even Internet Explorer, Google Chrome will feel like it's missing a lot of features, but everything is buried under a heavy layer of varnish.

The browser also supports third party extensions, and there are a lot of them. They are separated into extensions, which usually bring new or improved functionalities, and web apps, which are more like third party programs.

Besides the apparent simplicity, Google Chrome is also light and takes a lot less resources than Mozilla Firefox 12.0. This is a web browser I don't have to restart in the middle of the day in order to reclaim some of the system memory.

The last feature I want to mention is the search funtion, which can be made to perform this action right into the Google engine, without having to press enter, and it's all done in real time.
The Bad

Google Chrome is a web browser for the masses and there is no pejorative meaning behind this statement. It lacks a huge number of features, some important and some not.

For example, it's difficult, next to impossible to make the browser work with a third party download manager, especially on the Linux platform. You can't really see the size of a file before you download it and there is no extension to provide this function.

The apps are downloaded from the Webstore, a pitiful excuse for a central hub of extensions and programs. I understand what Google is trying to accomplish with it, but important extensions are hidden under piles of junk that are never updated and which floods the store.

Google Chrome is not quite ready in terms of functionality. I use extensively browsers in my line of work and I can't really use the browser from Google for any important tasks. On the other hand, I prefer it at home, where I can forget about Firefox and Opera and enjoy the Internet browsing.

One area in which the Google Chrome Web browser has trailed competitors Internet Explorer and Firefox has been graphics hardware acceleration, which can speed up webpage rendering. In my tests of previous versions, Chrome's acceleration only worked with specific graphics cards. With the release of the latest of version of the browser, Chrome 18, Google erases this drawback with extended hardware acceleration that works with more hardware. In other graphics news, the browser now extends 3D WebGL graphics support to older computers, such as those running Windows XP.
This is just another chapter in the overriding theme for Google and its Web browser— "instant." First, there was Google Instant, by which Web search results start appearing as soon as you start typing in the Google search box. Then came Instant Pages, in which Chrome tries to guess which link you're likely to click on next, and preload that page in the background. Another "instant" feature, pre-loads the first-proposed autocomplete site in the background when you start typing in the browser's address bar, so that it springs into view instantly when you click on the auto suggestion's entry.
Chrome 17 also added a new security protection, taking a page from Internet Explorer's SmartScreen Application Reputation protection. This extra layer warns you when you're about to download a file (especially a program file) from a known malware-distributing site.
Swift Setup
Even the setup process shows Chrome's commitment to speed: Just click the Install button on the Chrome Web page, and you'll have the browser up and running in less than a minute, with no wizard to go through and no system restart. The browser's available for Mac OS X and Linux, as well as Windows. In each platform the browser's up and running before you realize it, and it updates itself automatically in the background
Chrome Instant Pages
Not to be confused with Chrome Instant (see below) or Google Instant (which works on all browser to load Google search results as you type), Chrome Instant Pages requires both Chrome and a site that supports the feature. Of the latter, there is now just one important one: Google Search. The idea is that when you perform a search in Google, the browser will pre-load the page for the result link you're most likely to click on.
Built-in Flash and PDF Support
Chrome is the only browser to come with Adobe Flash built in, rather than requiring a separate (and annoying) installation. And not having to perform the frequent required updates of the Flash plugin separately is another boon—it updates automatically with the browser. With version 10, many of the security issues with Flash (famously bemoaned by Apple's Steve Jobs) went away, thanks to running the plugin in an isolated sandbox so that it doesn't have access to critical system areas.
Chrome boasts a PDF reader as well, so you don't have to worry about installing any Adobe plugins for viewing specialized Web content. When you load a PDF, an intuitive toolbar shows when your mouse cursor is in the southeast vicinity of the browser window. From this, you can have the document fill the width of the window, show a full page, or zoom in and out. By default, you can select text for cutting and pasting, but I couldn't copy and paste images. You can print the PDF as you would any Web page.
Minimalism has been a hallmark of Chrome since its first beta release. Tabs are above everything, and the only row below them holds the combined search/address bar, or "Omnibox." Here you can type any part of an address or page title, and the most likely site candidates will be presented in a dropdown. Optionally you can display bookmark links in a row below this. And the control buttons on the top-right of the browser window have been reduced to the absolute minimum—just one.
Chrome Instant
Chrome Instant is one of the niftiest things added to Chrome. Start typing a Web address in the Omnibox, and before you're even done, a page from your history or a search result page is displayed below in the main browser window. I just type "PC," and PCMag.com is already loaded. The idea was first implemented in Google search's Instant feature, but I think it's even more useful in the browser than in search, where I usually ignore it and finish typing my query anyway: Most sites we visit, we've visited before, so having them ready to go before you even finish typing is a big speeder-upper.
Chrome can also boast a less visible and less touted way of speeding up browser: it supports SPDY, an HTTP replacement that compresses header data and allows persistent connections between server and browsers. It turns out that some Google sites are already using SPDY when you browse with Chrome. As with Instant Pages, the technology is available to other Web publishers to implement, but again, Google itself is the most important player to support it.
Chrome also still sports excellent tab implementation. Tabs are prominent at the top of the browser window, and you can drag them out to the desktop to create independent windows (and drag them back in later) or split them side by side à la Windows 7 Aero Snap.
Extensions in Chrome
Extensions are accessible from the Tools submenu of the Chrome customization menu, which appears as a wrench at the top right side of its program window. In typical Chrome fashion, rather than opening a window for that purpose (as in Firefox), what opens looks like a Web page listing installed extensions. To fill it up, you can head to the Extension gallery, which is linked from this Extensions page.
A checkbox for each extension allows it to run while you're in incognito (private-browsing) mode. Enough users must have complained that extensions disappear when you enter that mode; it makes sense that you might still want to run your Ad Blocker while in the private mode. In comparison, Firefox's extensions always work in its private browsing mode, as do Internet Explorer 8 and 9's Accelerators and WebSlices.
Syncing Bookmarks and More
Bookmark syncing has been available in Chrome for a couple years, duplicating a feature that was introduced by the Opera browser back in 2008. The folks at Google have incrementally added more syncables, and these now include passwords, preferences, themes, "apps," auto-fill entries, extensions, and Omnibox history. You can also add new users to one machine's installation of Chrome, so multiple people can sync their customizations.
Performance and CompatibilityChrome's spurt in browser popularity has been largely propelled by one characteristic: Speed. At the time of its introduction and for a while thereafter, it did indeed leave other browsers in the dust, particularly in JavaScript speed. But at this point, the other browsers have made up lost ground, and as you can see from the test results below, Chrome is now dead last in the popular SunSpider benchmark. Aside from the synthetic benchmarks below, recent studies of real-world browser speed from New Relic and Strangeloop Networks have put Chrome below both Firefox and Internet Explorer in page loading speed.
Chrome has always impressed with the way it handles JavaScript, but with other browser makers cramming to catch up in speed, each vendor's latest edition has gotten within spitting distance of Chrome, if not surpassing it


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