Chrome beta catches up to developer's build

Latest update to beta version of Google's browser brings it up to speed with more experimental developer's version and includes new features.

Google's latest update to the beta version of the Chrome browser brings it to parity with the more experimental developer's version. Google Chrome beta version 5.0.375.29 for Windows, Mac, and Linux contains multiple feature enhancements as well as the semi-regular security and bug-fixes that are common updates for its less-stable cousin.

Chrome's geolocation feature asks whether you want to permit a Web site to know your location.

Chrome's geolocation feature asks whether you want to permit a Web site to know your location.

(Credit: Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

One of the most notable new features in the beta is the inclusion of default support for Adobe Flash. This means that users will no longer need to install a separate add-on to see Web sites that require Flash to render properly. It also should improve the Chrome beta's security somewhat, as security and bug fixes for Flash will be automatically updated by Google.

The new Chrome beta includes significant improvements to the V8 JavaScript rendering engine, according to Google. The company says users should see 30 percent faster performance on the V8 benchmarking tool, and 35 percent faster performance on the SunSpider benchmark. Geolocation has been activated in the new beta, even though it was just recently activated by default in the developer's build. Other HTML5-based additions include file drag-and-drop, Web socket support for better site-to-server communication, and app cache.

To talk up the speed improvements and give browser speed a bit of a real-world reference point, Google put together this video of Rube Goldberg-style physical triggers to show how fast its browser is. In it, you can see a Web page resolve in Chrome at the speed of a potato propelled by an air gun into a potato cutter, droplets of paint splashing into the air, and a bolt of electricity destroying a model Clipper ship courtesy of a Tesla coil.

Google's baked-in features have been enhanced as well. In addition to bookmarks, beta users can now synchronize most of the browser's settings including themes, home pages, Web content settings, and language. Extensions will now work in Chrome's Incognito mode, which allows you to use the browser without leaving traces in your cache or history.

The full change log can be read here.

Chrome watchers should note that the stable build of Google Chrome for Windows was recently updated with security fixes, but remains on the 4.x codebase. Google has yet to announce a timeline for stable versions of the browser for Mac and Linux.

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