Anticipating Google Chrome

On paper, Google’s Chrome seems to have some nice features going for it. Design ideas I like about it, featured either in the comic or the blog post:

  • It’s open source.
  • The importance of stability. Although I’ve had no serious problems with Firefox either (after I ditched Adobe’s flash), making stability one of the selling points instead of just something implied, is definitely something I welcome.
  • Speed. This was one of the biggest reasons I initially switched from IE to Firefox, but since then Firefox has taken on so much extra baggage that it has become unbearable for me, and caused me to switch to Epiphany.
  • The sweet spot between too many features and too few sounds golden. Like I said, I’ve switched to Epiphany, and I made the choice mainly because the design philosophy behind it reflects this marriage of simplicity with the most important features.
  • Linux and Mac versions underway in addition to the Windows version. Definitely a plus, although we’ve perhaps even come to expect this from Google.

Things I’m on the fence about:

  • It’s said to be designed from the perspective of modern web applications. Whether this is good or not depends on how it’s engineered. If it has resulted in less bloat than traditional browsers’ evolutional codebase, even with the advertised increased performance, I’m all for it. Then again, maybe they’ve just re-invented the wheel. Which, of course, isn’t necessarily bad for the user, just a waste of time.
  • Security. Apart perhaps from IE, I think modern browsers are pretty secure, and the overwhelmingly worst threat lies not with them, but between the keyboard and the chair. Of course, not all users are equal, and perhaps a paranoidly secure browser is helpful for users too innocent for their own good on the web, but I like to be in control myself and am easily angered by software attempting to out-smart people using it. Which is what a browser with a wrong idea about the user’s abilities inevitably does.
  • The multi-process design. It seems like a radical solution, which may be revolutionary, or just a dead end. Either way, I’m very happy to see them experiment this way.
  • The privacy mode. In itself, it’s a good thing, but if it has resulted in lack of privacy for the normal mode, it’s a mistake. But privacy-wise I think the bar has been set so low by the current generation of browsers that they should be easily beat at this.

Things I dislike about it:

  • It’s from Google. They’re not necessarily evil, but I dislike any player who’s gotten too big, and when it comes to the web, Google definitely qualify. However, the power of open source is strong enough to counter this point: because they’re not locking users in with Chrome, it doesn’t matter what I think about them. What matters is the product and how good or bad is it in other respects, so I could scratch this point entirely.
  • Only a Windows version available so far. I’ll have to use virtualization to get my hands on it!
  • The Omnibox. I cannot put into words how much I despise Firefox’s AwesomeBar; it was the tipping point for me, finally causing the switch to Epiphany. They’re saying this is nothing like it, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. Until then I’m marking it as a minus.

2 Replies to “Anticipating Google Chrome”

  1. I dont know how you can dismiss the OmniBox. Its something as far as I see it that Epiphany has since many years and that FF only has taken recently. With intelligent bookmarks Epi also allows people to use defined search engines dynamically. I think that rather idea of having multiple boxes is dull. And when typing and wanting results I prefer that also bookmarks are searched -and to search the title and tags not only the URL. I always thought that the now called OmniBox was one thing that made Epi distinct in its quality from other browsers – and now you say it doesnt have that kind of thing?

  2. I’m not sure how the internals of Epiphany’s URL bar differ from those Firefox’s, but here’s an example of why Epiphany’s location bar is better for me: here’s AwesomeBar giving me a “good” suggestion after typing in 4, and here’s Epiphany’s bar doing the same thing (note that both have Evolt’s Entity chart in their bookmarks). Needless to say, I find Epiphany’s suggestions superior – not that I’m necessarily going where it suggests that I go, but at least the suggestions it gives me have a reasonable degree of intelligence about them. Firefox’s has none.

    So all I know is that Epiphany doesn’t flood me with dumb suggestions when I type in something. Here’s how it went with Firefox: I would type something, get a list of dumb suggestions. I would then move down to the list and delete those suggestions (Shift + Delete), cause they’re not (at all) what I wanted and I don’t want to see them again. I’d go back and try the same letters – and get a new list of equally poor suggestions. I’d delete them and go back, and so on… until I’m only left with my bookmarks and maybe the actual URL I’m trying to get to. And of course, after browsing for a while, the browsing history again gets filled with URLs that Firefox thinks are good suggestions the next time I’m typing something into the location bar.

    I’m also not sure how the intelligent bookmarks relate to search engines, but I do use Epi’s location bar as my portal to a search engine and I’m mostly happy with it.

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