Later today you will be able to download Google Chrome, Google’s first ever web browser. But is it really a web browser or is it something different? Something more? Regardless of what it is now and what it’s meant to be in the future, one thing is absolutely certain at this moment: it’s a big deal.
Microsoft dominates the web browser war with 75% market share. Mozilla’s Firefox – commended by Google for being Open Source friendly in their announcement of Chrome – is an incredibly distant second. Beyond those big 2, Safari, Opera and the emerging mobile web browsers, the rest are of relative unimportance. Bring Chrome into the fold and you’ve got a web browser that could instantaneously turn the “Big 2″ into the “Big 3″, become the preferred mobile web browser and bridge the ever narrowing gap between the desktop and mobile experience… with help from Android.
Exactly HOW Google Chrome was announced is both interesting and unique. According to Google’s own account they accidentally pressed the “send” button on a press release and the recipients unsurprisingly rushed to inform their readers via articles and blog posts about the news. Pretty interesting but how is it unique? Because Google’s announcement of Google Chrome came by way of a 38 page comic book that combines the informative and educational with an easy to read narrative flow and creative/artistic pictures that made reading it fun.
The first few paragraphs do a brilliant job at setting the stage for Google Chrome:
Today, most of what we use the web for on a day-to-day basis aren’t just web pages, they’re applications. People are watching and uploading videos, chatting with eachother, playing web-based games… all these things that didn’t exist when the first browsers were created.
Wouldn’t it be great then, to start from scratch — and design something based on the needs of today’s web applications and today’s users?
It makes perfect sense. Instead of redecorating the Internet Mansion, Google Chrome levels the entire property and starts from scratch with a unique, refined blueprint based on a new era and vision.
Google Chrome is based on WebKit, which both Apple’s Safari and Google’s Android also use. According to the comic, the team working on Google Chrome actually asked the Google Android team why they utilized WebKit. It was all about SPEED and SIMPLICITY.
Without getting too wordy and technical (you can read the whole comic for that) lets touch on a few things that Google Chrome does:
- Focuses on tabbed browsing but, unlike other browsers, treats each tab as a completely different process. A major upside here is efficient memory management.
- Stability. Separate processes in separate tabs means when one task crashes your entire browser doesn’t crash… a development many multi-taskers will welcome with open hands.
- Safety. Processes can’t talk to eachother and can’t move around specific chains of commands unless explicitly decided upon by the user. This browser was built to repel the current scams, tricks and malware you see online.
- More Safety. Google will be keeping an ever growing (and refined) list of websites that may be “dangerous” and warn you before visiting them. They’ll also make this list available via API and if YOUR site hits the blacklist they’ll contact you and tell you what you need to get de-blacklisted.
- Privacy. A special window/tab for private viewing will keep all information in that window private and when you close it NOTHING from it will be saved in terms of cookies, information, etc… it will all be erased when the tab is closed. Permanently.
- More robust browsing. V8, Google’s version of a Java Script Virtual Machine, allows for quicker use of Java in-browser allowing for more robust applications. Cooperation with Google Gears will extend the experience even further.
Most of these things happen “under the hood” for the most part… you won’t necessarily even know they’re happening and thats just the way Google wants it, “We don’t want to interrupt anything the user is trying to do. If you can just IGNORE the web browser, we’ve done a good job.”
There are a few things that you WILL notice from a usability standpoint. First of all, while many people have either their favorite website load when a new browser loads or a blank tab for speed purposes, Google has tried to provide a better default:
As you can see it automatically lists your favorite sites/visits on the homescreen with your most popular searches, recent tabs closed, recent visits, etc… in the sidebar. That box at the top is being called an “omnibar” and not only can you search Google with that, but Chrome saves the searchbox of OTHER sites you’ve used into the browser so you can search from all your recent sites with an easy press of the TAB button. Pretty neat, actually.
Hmmm… embarrassed because “porn” or “gambling” sites are your favorite and you don’t want anyone to know? Or are you constantly navigating ESPN.com, phandroid.com and other sites at work and don’t want them displaying when you open Chrome by default? No problem, you can also browse in “Stealth” mode with a special tab that will erase EVERYTHING, cookies, passwords, history, etc… at the very moment you close the tab. A lot of teenage boys will be very happy about this.
While most are incredibly excited about this, there are others throwing up a red flag. For example, Om Malik of GigaOM is wondering what Google’s growing empire could/will do will all this personal navigating information and inherent privacy implications regarldess of any “stealth” mode. He also talked to the CEO of Mozilla (FireFox) who was not worried about Google becoming a browser competitor… afterall, most people saw something of this nature coming. They are close financial partners with Google and will continue to improve their own product.
But is Google only going after Mozilla and Internet Explorer with Google Chrome or is the picture larger? Google has long been putting the various pieces for complete web/mobile domination into place for a long time now. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame believes Google is actually taking aim at Microsoft WINDOWS… Google Chrome isn’t merely a web browser… it has the potential to be a complete operating system.
If you take into account GMail, Google Docs, Google Gears and every other resource Google has it seems like the reality. And with Android capable of running on devices besides just mobile phones… there is not telling how Google Chrome could transcend the boundaries and borders of a typical web browsing experience.
While sites across the web are busy reporting their own take on Google Chrome, we want to ensure our own perspective is of a unique brand. So, to add a light touch to the Google Chrome announcement, here are 4 interesting facts you may not have known without reading the entire 38 page comic:
1) The Google Chrome Team and Pam Greer are hip and cool. Not only do they know what OMFG stands for but their friends use the word and they aren’t afraid to show you in a business document.
2) Of 3 “fake” domain names mentioned in the cartoon, 2 of them have been registered. Those are AlreadyRank.com and AtTheVeryLeast.com. The third one mentioned was MemoryHog.net and at the time of publishing this article, it was still available. MemoryHog.com had been registered in 2000.
3) Google is spying on me. Besides the fact that I spell “Damnit” with an N and my girlfriend doesn’t look like this… I’m pretty sure this happens to me on an almost daily basis. Probably because I keep about 23543232 FireFox tabs open at a time. Still… Google, did you install nannycams in my house?
4) If this is the Google Version of Microsoft’s Blue Screen of Death… at least its funny looking:
Hope all the Americans enjoyed their Labor Day weekend and for everyone else, Happy Tuesday!