Ian's Blog

Chrome is Really (Really) Good

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I’d like to join the other zillion people who installed Chrome today and exclaimed, in unison: wow!

I installed Chrome 20 minutes ago, and I’m already impressed.

On literally the first page I visited, I noticed a dramatic speed difference compared to Firefox. I don’t use IE frequently, but when I do it seems roughly equivalent to Firefox. Chrome, on the other hand, was dramatically faster. Javascript-heavy pages like GMail are wicked fast. Unlike all those performance improvements I read about in Firefox 3, the speedup is dramatic enough to cross that all-important “perceptible by a human” threshold. So that’s nice.

I like the minimalist interface. All the meaningless stuff surrounding the page (*cough* the uh, chrome) is gone. The default start page actually makes sense: it lists the pages and bookmarks you visit most. I might not even change my default page to about:blank for the first time since 1998. I love that you can turn off the bookmarks toolbar, after which those bookmarks show up where you’d logically use them: the default start page.

It’s not perfect. On my laptop, the vertical scroll area of the touchpad is wonky. It’s way too sensitive and only scrolls down. Every time I forget and reach for it, I immediately scroll to the very bottom of whatever page I’m looking at and get stuck there. That’s annoying enough that I probably won’t make Chrome my default browser on this machine until it’s fixed.

I also miss several things I’d gotten used to in Firefox:

  • The Adblock Plus plugin. I’ve been using Adblock for most of the 21st century, and 20 minutes without it is already too long.
  • The del.icio.us plugin. I use at least 3 machines regularly. Portable bookmarks are essential.
  • Keyword searches. Typing in the address bar searches Google by default, but I’ve got at least a dozen customized keyword searches set up in Firefox. Not being able to determine if The Dark Knight is still the best movie of all time with a simple ALT+D “imdb the dark knight” really cramps my style. Oops. Looks like Chrome does this. Awesome!

Overall though, it’s an incredibly good “beta” browser. I can’t remember the last time any application made me literally say “wow” within 10 seconds of launching it for the first time. And I’ve only done pedestrian browsing. I haven’t yet scratched the surface of the browser-as-platform features at the heart of Chrome. Google’s done an incredible job with this opening salvo in the new browser wars.


Written by Ian Olsen

September 2, 2008 at 9:52 pm

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