Wednesday, September 3, 2008

shiny new chrome

Google surprised us this week with Chrome, a new browser for the web. Maybe you don't pay much attention to which browser you use, but you drive one every time you access the internet. Think of it as the platform on which you cruise, the chassis, so to speak. 

About 77% of my readers currently use the Firefox browser to get to this site, according to Google Analytics. I have used Firefox faithfully since its initial release in 2004. Today, it enjoys nearly 20% share of web use, steadily chipping away at Internet Explorer's domination, and for good reasons: safety, tabs, and customization. Firefox's innovations forced all browsers to drive better and safer.

Google has financially backed Firefox development for years, so why build their own browser? It seems to come down to a difference in architecture philosophy. The things Google wants to do on the internet will be better served by building their own browser from scratch. They claim to not be at odds with each other, encouraging competition with this new entry into the browser market. Both are built upon open source platforms, and are freely available to anyone who wants to improve the browsing experience.

I've only been using Chrome for about 24 hours, but so far I'm impressed. Here's why:
  • speed: windows and tabs render very quickly
  • stability: if something on one tab goes whack, only that tab goes down. It doesn't freeze up and crash any other windows or tabs.
  • tabs technology: this (and safety) is why I moved to Firefox to begin with. Tab innovations changed how I used the internet, allowing me have several applications and reference website up at the same time. 
  1. Tabs in Chrome are placed above the url bar, not below, gaining me more viewing real estate. 
  2. I can move tabs from window to window as needed, and easily open them in separate windows. 
  3. Scrolling seems much improved, more consistent from page to page. 
  4. Having several tabs and windows open at the same time is significantly streamlined, making it easier for me to work. 
  • safety: incorporates strong anti-phishing technology, and fights malware with a hierarchy of read/write permissions, allowing entrance only to trusted sites, or sites you request.
  • intuitive? Very! Seems to know exactly where I want to go. Huge wow factor.

Why does any of this matter to you, the educator? Is it worthwhile for you to switch from Firefox to Chrome? I'll write more about that in my next post.

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