Review: Google Chrome 30

Google's latest updates include an increasing presence of the app shelf, browser reset functionality, and improved fullscreen experience with Immersive mode.

Chrome is the lightweight flagship browser that originated from an open-source project by Google called Chromium and Chromium OS. It is now one of the more widely-used browsers thanks to a vast ecosystem of extensions and add-ons, a robust Javascript engine, and a rapid-release development cycle that keeps it on the competitive end of the curve.

Chrome's installation process is both straightforward and self-sustaining. The installer will launch confirmations of system directories with a few click-throughs. Typical stuff. Google will also ask for your permission to anonymously collect usage stats, which you can opt out of. Once you install the Chrome browser, Google automatically rolls out silent upgrades and keeps your browser up to date.

Chrome's overall UI has remained stable since version 1.0: a minimal two row window with tabs resting above the address bar (Omnibox), 3 browser controls (Back, Forward, Stop/Reload), a star-shaped toggle for bookmarking, and settings icon.

As you install extensions, active icons will appear to the right of the address bar, but beyond that Google maintains strict restrictions on adding visible add-ons. That means no toolbars or any undesired overlays, which used to be standard practice. Chrome is minimal for a reason: to maintain a clean browsing experience with maximum use of screen estate for Web sites. A new, Immersive mode hides UI elements to create a fullscreen experience that removes many distracting elements.

In addition to tabbed browsing, Chrome has an impressive number of built-in tools, modes, hot key functions, and more.

One popular feature is, of course, Incognito mode: Chrome's response to Mozilla's Private Browsing feature. Incognito opens a new window that disables history recording and tracking cookies, and reduces the amount of traceable breadcrumbs from your usage. Contrary to popular belief, it does not mean you can freely browse the Web for illegal use as your ISP can still see your traffic activity...so stay out of trouble!

Chrome now also offers the ability to reset your browser to its default settings, removing any installed apps or extensions.

Under the hood, Chrome has some awesome features that make it very developer friendly: hardware acceleration for rendering 3D CSS effects, Google's own NaCl (Native Client) that allows secure execution of C and C++ codes within the browser, and an in-house JavaScript engine that improves load times with every release.

Pressing "F12" will open a dev. console that allows you to view Web code and quickly identify elements just by highlighting the mouse over each line. You can also add your own HTML and CSS codes to render a page with custom styling.

Chrome also allows Google users to sync their accounts, which comes with added benefits like restoring saved bookmarks and extensions in the cloud no matter what device you're on. When you're synced, an app shelf will appear across many Google services to give you quicker access between each of them.

Chrome is fast. Really fast. Chrome is powered by Google's own V8 JavaScript engine that renders pages at standard-setting speeds. In addition, Google has been on the forefront of implementing best practices for HTML5 standards and though it's also currently running the widely-used open-source Webkit engine, Google will move to Blink in the near future.

Google has relentlessly set the standard for speed, stability, and security, and Chrome's numerous version updates, as many as there are, have continued to complement its minimalist design. It's no surprise that its market share continues to rise, especially when combined with its mobile cousin on Android. Regardless of which is faster, Google's Internet browser is one for the masses: casual user and developer, alike.

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