Google Chrome 18 Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Speed
  • (6 more, see all...)

Google Chrome is the new kid on the block, in regard to the other heavy hitters on the market, but it's the richest one. It's backed up by one of largest corporations on the planet and it became an important player in a very short time.

We can't question the Google's decision to develop its own browser, especially since it has the most popular search engine, but we can wonder ourselves why they haven't thought of this earlier.

The Google Chrome project was made public back in 2008 and it stands on the shoulders of the Chromium Project. It evolved a lot since then and made its way from a spartan look and feel to a complet software that can rival any other web browser.

Google Chrome is based on the WebKit layout engine and uses the V8 JavaScript engine. The software is free, but the source code is subject to a number of open-source licenses.

Google poured money into the development of the Google Chrome browser, imposing a development cycle that is almost unparalleled. This type of management, releasing a lot of smaller increments into a large number of versions has caught on and now Mozilla also follows this pattern.

This fast development cycle has managed to produce a ridiculous version number, at least in the eyes of the common user. The stable version of Google Chrome is 18.0.1025.162, the Beta version is 19.0.1084.36. and the Alpha version is 20.0.1115.1.

Installation

Google provides deb and rpm packages, for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, but no source package. They provide a source code, but for Chromium, which is a little bit different. So, if you don't have Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora, or any other distribution that is based on Debian or Red Hat, you will have to resort to Chromium.

We've installed Google Chrome in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and everything went pretty smooth. Users can either install it from a terminal or just by double clicking it.

The Good

Just as I did in the Firefox 12.0 review, I am not going to enumerate all the features available and I'm sure this is not what users want, so I will just list some pro and cons and let the users decide.

The main reason people use Google Chrome is because it looks simple and light. I say looks because Google knew what they were doing. I wouldn't put it past them to hire some guys who had only one job, to make the interface as simple and as functional as possible.

They did it. If you come from Firefox, Opera or even Internet Explorer, Google Chrome will feel like it's missing a lot of features, but everything is buried under a heavy layer of varnish.

The browser also supports third party extensions, and there are a lot of them. They are separated into extensions, which usually bring new or improved functionalities, and web apps, which are more like third party programs.

Besides the apparent simplicity, Google Chrome is also light and takes a lot less resources than Mozilla Firefox 12.0. This is a web browser I don't have to restart in the middle of the day in order to reclaim some of the system memory.

The last feature I want to mention is the search funtion, which can be made to perform this action right into the Google engine, without having to press enter, and it's all done in real time.

The Bad

Google Chrome is a web browser for the masses and there is no pejorative meaning behind this statement. It lacks a huge number of features, some important and some not.

For example, it's difficult, next to impossible to make the browser work with a third party download manager, especially on the Linux platform. You can't really see the size of a file before you download it and there is no extension to provide this function.

The apps are downloaded from the Webstore, a pitiful excuse for a central hub of extensions and programs. I understand what Google is trying to accomplish with it, but important extensions are hidden under piles of junk that are never updated and which floods the store.

Google Chrome is not quite ready in terms of functionality. I use extensively browsers in my line of work and I can't really use the browser from Google for any important tasks. On the other hand, I prefer it at home, where I can forget about Firefox and Opera and enjoy the Internet browsing.

Conclusion

There is no question in my mind about the quality of Google Chrome and I'm quite certain that the third position it currently occupies in the world is a well deserved one. It's light and fun to use, in a casual way, but when it comes to heavy usage is not quite on par with its main competitor, Mozilla Firefox, at least on the Linux platform.

I can't go around recommending it, but I can safely say that a year from now it's going to be very hard to decide between web browsers. Google Chrome has recouped a lot of ground in just a few years, and there's no telling what innovations they'll bring. 2012 will be a great year for end users, as Google and Mozilla battle it out for supremacy.

user interface 4
features 3
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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