- 2 Sep 08, 20:00 GMT
I spent an hour this afternoon at Google's London HQ getting a first look at its new browser, Chrome. So here are a few hurried first impressions...
The first thing you see when you open the browser is a clutch of snapshots of some of your favourite websites, garnered from your search history. Click and you go straight to them. There's also a box enabling you to search your web history.
But it's the address bar which is intended to do much of the heavy lifting. Start typing in the box- and it begins to offer suggested URLs or offer web searches. Google seems pretty excited about this - but to my eyes it looked much like Firefox's "Awesome Bar".
As with all new browsers, tabs are an important feature, though Google is claiming its tabs are extra special. They each feature the address bar, and they're designed so that if a site crashes in one tab, it doesn't bring down the whole browser, a policy Google calls "kill the tab, not the browser".
Privacy is now a growing concern for many web users, and Chrome has an "Incognito" mode, which means that if your partner comes to the computer after you've been using it, they will not see which sites you have visited.
Used on Google's network, Chrome did appear to load pages very quickly and efficiently - and if those who install the beta (only for Windows right now) experience similar speeds, then it could gain quite a following.
Overall, the browser does not feature anything that will blow the socks off a Firefox user - and persuading the mass of web users, many of whom will be unaware of which browser they use, to go and download Chrome will not be easy.
So Chrome borrows many of its ideas - and its technology - from other browsers. But more choice can only be a good thing, and help spark further innovation.
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