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Google Chrome, the first web browser from the search engine giant, was released for download this week in a beta version.

Google Chrome 

Will it be a serious rival for Internet Explorer, Firefox and other browsers though? Here's a run-through of some of its features...

Appearance

Chrome looks good, and has managed to ditch much of the clutter that characterises other web browsers. The toolbars and most of the normal buttons have all gone, leaving just the URL bar, links to options, and back buttons.

This means that more of a website's content can now be seen above the fold, which can only be a good thing.

Merged search / URL

This is an excellent idea, which simplifies the use of the browser, as well as reducing clutter. Users can now either type in a web address or a search term, and the box will handle both.

Chrome URL / search bar

This uses your browsing history to suggest either websites or search terms, making it unnecessary in most cases to enter a URL at all.

Speed

Google Chrome certainly seems faster than IE or Firefox for the various sites I have loaded so far, and noticeably so.

ZDNet has some performance benchmarks, comparing the performance of Chrome with other popular browsers and Google's beta version managed to beat the competition.

In fact, it came out ten times faster than IE8, which is pretty impressive for a beta product.

Home page

Chrome learns from your browsing history and presents you with your most visited pages when you open the browser or click on a new tab. A simple feature, but one that saves time spent opening bookmarks or typing in the URL.

Google Chrome home page

Other useful links are also displayed on this page, including any recently bookmarked pages or tabs that have recently been closed. Google also provides a box for you to search through your browsing history:

Google Chrome search

Tabs

The tabs on Chrome are nice and easy to manipulate. I like Firefox, but prefer the option of clicking on a new tab to open it rather than CTRL + T. With Chrome you can do either.

You can also drag tabs around and change their position and, rather than having to select 'open in new window' as on other browsers, you can simply drag any tab out into a separate window, then back again. A nice touch.

Chrome - drag tabs

Task manager

This is a pretty impressive feature. As with Windows task manager, you can see what processes are going on in the separate Chrome tabs.

You can select this by right-clicking in the browser's title bar:

Chrome task manager

This gives you a useful rundown of active processes within the browser, and lets you know how much of your network resources, memory and CPU are being used by the browser.

This is handy to see which websites are using most of your CPU and potentially slowing down your computer and, as on Windows, you can end any processes for this reason.

If you want more information, the 'stats for nerds' link gives you this in much greater detail: 

Google Chrome stats for nerds

Incognito search

If you want to browse when you should really be working without leaving a trace, or look at anything else you shouldn't be, or perhaps for more legitimate reasons, Chrome has provided an 'incognito mode'. 

Google Chrome Incognito  

This means that any pages you view in this mode will not be recorded in your search or browser history, and cookies and other traces will not be left on your computer afterwards.

Missing features

With the merged search / URL bar, the Google Toolbar is unnecessary for Chrome users, but there are a few features that would be useful.

One benefit of using Firefox is the number of useful add-ons that have been developed for the browser and these are unavailable on Chrome. For instance, I use the Delicious plug in to bookmark useful web pages, as well as some screenshot and SEO tools.

Still, Chrome is in beta for the moment, so it may just be a matter of time before third party add-ons are developed for Google's browser.

Will it beat Internet Explorer? 

The browser is at an early stage in its development, but on first impressions Google Chrome could be a serious rival for IE, and Firefox.

Most web users simply use Internet Explorer because it is already installed on their PCs and laptops, and are either too lazy to change or unaware of the alternatives.  

This fact alone will be a major barrier to the growth of Chrome, but it is an excellent product and Google certainly has the resources to mount a serious challenge to Microsoft's dominance of the browser market.

It is fast, attractive, and contains some excellent features which IE cannot match at the moment. If you haven't already tried it out, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go.

Related research:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Best Practice Guide

Related articles:
First impressions of the Google Chrome web browser
Just how much of the customer journey will Google own? 

Graham Charlton

Published 4 September, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Andrei

If you don't wanna install it , try the Chrome PE version (standalone)

www.chromepe.tk

almost 8 years ago

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Jon

"With the merged search / URL bar, the Google Toolbar is unnecessary for Chrome users"

Erm, the search box is probably the least useful tool in the toolbar.

The toolbar not being available for Chrome is a big problem, especially for anyone interested in SEO.

The fact that the "related article" at the bottom of the page here is "Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Best Practice Guide", made me chuckle.

almost 8 years ago

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Saint-Germain

I really like Google Chrome because its very fast... but i keep my Firefox !

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Jon: Presumably what you meant to say was "the least useful tool in the toolbar *for SEO professionals*"?

If you read the article properly you'll see that Graham makes the point that Firefox is better in this respect. Those SEOs still obsessed with PageRank can always use one of the other browsers, like Firefox.

Chrome is a one-day old beta and I'm sure these things will be made available in due course.

almost 8 years ago

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Chris Whatley

I am very impressed with that they have removed from your standard browser, it will be much more useful to a "normal" user.

In terms of using it for SEO, I think Firefox ill still rule, but for how long?? Remember that its still early days for all of this.

I am impressed though that Chrome never crashed all day yesterday, especially when I get Firefox crashing at least twice a day.

almost 8 years ago

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mr.m.

You guys didn't heard for Opera?

almost 8 years ago

Lawrence Ladomery

Lawrence Ladomery, Founder at automatico

About time someone produced a browser that *just worked*. Chrome makes FF, IE and even Opera feel particularly bloated.

And it's quick, real quick...

almost 8 years ago

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Rob Lewis

I've been pretty impressed with it too, very fast on loading and rendering sites. It'll be interesting to see if the load time remains as quick once more features or add-ons are added.

I definitely think it has put a cat amongst the pigeons in the browser market, although I'm sure the other browsers will use some of the ideas used in Chrome - after all, it is open source so they'll be pretty much be able to "steal" the code.

almost 8 years ago

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Lara

When is the Mac version coming out?!!

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Lara - 'in a few months' hopefully, according to Sergey Brin via Kara Swisher:
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080903/the-chrome-browser-stylings-of-googles-sergey-brin/

almost 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Chrome is already 3rd in terms of browser share behind IE/FF according to Google Analytics on my site (which now reports it as a separate browser) - so already overtaking Safari.

It would be good if someone could pull off this data for the more tech / savvy Econsultancy site. And also show it rise / fall time through time... I've stopped using it already due to lack of plug-ins...

Dave

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

I've taken a look Dave but Hitbox doesn't allow us to drill down into specific non-MS browser versions, as far as I can tell. I'll see whether somebody else can do a better job of interrogating it.

almost 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Ah that's a shame, it would make a great headline! but not surprising - the Google Analytics team probably got more notice than Hitbox-Omniture.

The user agent to look for is:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/0.A.B.C Safari/525.13

almost 8 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

Looks like we're up to almost 5% Chrome/Safari usage. See my post at
http://www.e-consultancy.com/forum/111755-google-chrome--increase-in-web-stats.html

We were at 1.5% Safari usage pre-Chrome and it then shot up to 5% so, without the detailed browser details stats, I think we can safely say the increase is down to Chrome uptake.

Ashley Friedlein

almost 8 years ago

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