Google Chrome: First Impressions

Posted on Sep 2, 2008 in Opinions, The web, UI Design

Well, Chrome is here and so far I’m pretty impressed. Although currently only available for Windows (you can’t actually download the Windows version if your browser identifies you as a Mac user – I had to select a Windows user agent for the download page to let me download it) it’s quite snappy, even running under Parallels. 

I had no trouble loading any pages and even complex pages such as my netvibes.com customized homepage (which is slow to load on other browsers) seemed to load very quickly (and this was in a virtual machine!).

Despite this being a 1.0 release, Google has already included some more “advanced” features such as a source code view option that includes coloured markup and a DOM inspector feature. 

The “tabs on top” UI choice doesn’t really bother me – I didn’t find it inherently better than the standard tab model either though.

What is interesting is how sparse the UI is otherwise though. It mirrors Google.com in many ways: You won’t find a menu bar anywhere in the main window, just a limited number of understated buttons and a clean consistent look – quite a relief when compared with IE 7 and Firefox 3’s busy, crowded looks. 

The good

 

  • The home screen with your latest bookmarks and most frequently visited pages looks more practical than launch pages such as Netvibes or iGoogle.
  • Bookmarking with a single click
  • Google searches directly from the address bar
  • Intelligent address shortening (e.g. “jetplanejournal.com/2008/08/jetplane-review-v-moda-vibe-duo” is truncated to www.jetplanejournal.com in your history and recent addresses)

 

The bad

  • We’ve got to wait for the Mac version
  • No plugins such as adblock yet (although considering advertising is Google’s main business, it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll allow it)

Verdict

This seems to be a very strong first attempt by Google. As it stands it’s already a very strong competitor to Safari and Camino, whilst Firefox fans will miss some of their favourite extensions.  

Oh and as predicted – here’s the full frontal assault on IE:

It’s hard to imagine a better place to advertise a new web browser.

1 Comment

  1. Hiho Adrian,
    I also checked out Google Chrome yesterday and I like it.
    I hope it will become popular, so people use it.
    Maybe there will be a Mac and/or Linux version soon (because it is open-source, right?), but as you pointed out, this is clearly against Microsoft and they will most likely focus on Windows.
    Best regards and cya @ university,
    Michael