REVIEW

Product Review: Google Chrome - The New New Thing

September 02, 2008
Aaman Lamba

Google seems to bringing order to its cornucopia of services, slowly yet strategically. Like all grand designs, the emergence of something big wasn't evident in the beginning, perhaps even to the creators. The basic structure remains the same - to provide convenient access to information through an unobtrusive intelligence layer. The services have been layered in, providing essential plumbing to what is evidently an operating system for the always-connected noosphere.

Another critical component was introduced today - the much-awaited Google Chrome web browser. While one might wonder what incremental value yet another browser might provide as an interface, it is the primary means of human-Internet interaction, and played right, could mean a consistent memory layer that brings the Google Mind ever closer to sentience. From a user perspective, there's little to write home about just yet, if one overlooks the relatively new process-independent tab architecture (IE 8 does the same thing, and IE 7+ separates the browser UI and tabs in terms of permissions) and the minimalistic interface. The pain of giving up essential add-ons and workflow steps might mean more than using the next new new thing, but Google is looking beyond the desktop client, even if the first release of Google Chrome is Windows-only.

In a few months or perhaps sooner, it is highly likely Google Chrome will be the front end of Android-based phones. The non-standard Windows UI used in Google Chrome makes sense when one visualizes a small scale equivalent on a mobile phone. The near-instantaneous startup is going to be handy for an always-on interface. Google might go further in terms of bundling services if it didn't have the ghost of Microsoft Anti-Trust in its rear view mirror. As it is, it allows you the option of changing default search engines from Google and Google applications don't seem to be running any differently within Chrome or other browsers, expect perhaps Google Reader. The most-visited sites are a nice touch when opening a new tab, and the ability to slide a tab over others is a neat touch. There does not seem to be torrent download capabilities and I strangely didn't see any auto-discovery of RSS feeds on a website. The setup told me it was importing my Firefox bookmarks, but I don't see them anywhere, and why leave out IE?
chrome_ui

JavaScript and CSS rendering appear to be smooth, and performance is good. I noticed five chrome.exe processes in my task manager when I had only three tabs opened, ranging between 20 MB and 42 MB each in terms of memory usage, but a large number of page faults, and minimal bloat over an hour of running. The memory utilization was almost three times that in Mozilla Firefox for a similar load. One simple script in MovableType gave unexpected results, triggering a search when I hit the save button. Pages can fail to be rendered, with an 'Aw Snap!' error that blanks out the tab. Not a nice experience, to be frank.
google_chrome_ui_error

Incognito Mode, or as it came to be known when Microsoft announced the feature in Internet Explorer 8 - porn mode - is invoked by Ctrl+Shift+N and removes pages browsed from the browser cache and history, and avoids cookies.

For the moment, I'm not going to be giving up any of my current browsers, and it remains to be seen if this new kid on the block lives up to its promises.

Aaman Lamba is the Publisher of Desicritics.org, a Blogcritics network site. He also blogs, more infrequently nowadays, at Audit Trails Of Self
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#1
temple Stark
URL
September 2, 2008
11:02 PM

nice work.

I'm mac so cannot even try. It's unlikely I'd let Google invade my web experience more, however, but I'll try when they pull they're finger out and create mac version (It's built with Web kit like Safari so WTF?)

#2
media kingdom
URL
September 3, 2008
11:41 AM

i'm willing to try it out just to see if it works more efficiently than FireFox... if it's faster than Firefox and isn't IE, then i'll use it

#3
media kingdom
URL
September 3, 2008
11:43 AM

i'm willing to try it out just to see if it works more efficiently than FireFox... if it's faster than Firefox and isn't IE, then i'll use it

#4
Aaman
URL
September 3, 2008
12:21 PM

Scary update:Google owns your content if posted through Chrome

Granting Google 'a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through' Chrome is coming it rich.


Wonder if it makes sense to use Google Chrome?

#5
Aaman
URL
September 3, 2008
12:33 PM

The Internet lawyers seem to have parsed the language to determine that it primarily refers to Google Services like Google Docs, Blogspot, and Youtube, ergo the finer print:

"This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services ..."

One can probably rest easy and we probably anyway sold our sould and private rights when we got our birth certificates...

#6
Aaman
URL
September 3, 2008
12:38 PM

BTW, anyone remember William Gibson's story about a high class madam who was taken down by hackers. Her name was Chrome, and the story was called "Burning Chrome":)

#7
Aaman
URL
September 3, 2008
03:57 PM

Good News,

Rebecca Ward, the Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome:

"In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don't apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome."

#8
Amy Cantor
September 4, 2008
01:53 AM

When you initially install Chrome, you do have an option to "customize options" - you can import IE bookmarks and such from there.

#9
Aaman
URL
September 4, 2008
10:51 AM

Google To Revise Chrome EULA

The search engine has decided to remove the section from the end-user licencing agreement that gave the company "a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through the new browser".

Several web users raised copyright and privacy concerns about portions of the licensing agreement shortly after Google launched Chrome earlier this week. Some critics suggested the language would allow Google to use any web content displayed in Chrome without getting copyright permission.

Google said it borrowed language from other products, "in order to keep things simple for our users" when it inserted the copyright provision in the Chrome licence.

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