Google Chrome 16.0.912.63 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Google Chrome

CNET Editors' review

Chrome 16 review

The bottom line: Competitiveness, thy name is Chrome. Google's browser is one of the fastest and most standards-compliant browsers available. It lacks some of the fine-tuning you'll find in Firefox, but from the minimalist interface to support for future-Web tech like Native Client and HTML5, the browser is a must.

Review:
Google Chrome continues to mature from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative browser on the precipice of a potential browsing revolution with the just-released Chrome OS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 16, offers highly competitive features, including synchronization, autofill, and standards compliance, and maintains Google's reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.

Chrome 16 represents a major milestone for the browser, but those expecting to see dramatic changes in major-point updates will be disappointed. For a while now, Google has been pushing features over what it calls milestone numbers, which means that as soon as new features are usable in the beta version of Chrome, Google will likely push them to all users in the stable edition.

First Look: Chrome still shines, 10 versions later

Recent updates to the browser have included support for Native Client in Chrome 14. Native Client, or NaCl, is an open-source technology that allows C and C++ code to be securely run in the browser. It basically lets software run within two protected sandboxes, which will theoretically cut down on browser-based threats dramatically. When completed, NaCl will enable Web apps to run as smoothly as programs that are hosted on your hard drive.

As implemented in Chrome 14, NaCl works only for Chrome Web Store apps, though Google plans to expand NaCl so that eventually it powers the entire browser.

Chrome 15 debuted of a redesigned New Tab page and a redone Chrome Web Store that it links to. The intuitive New Tab page allows you to create custom categories by dragging and dropping apps and bookmarks, and includes navigation arrows on the left and right edges of the page that become more visible on mouse-over. For more, check out CNET's story on how to use Chrome's new New Tab page.

Chrome 16 launches the beginning of changes to how sync works in the browser, with the introduction of multiple user account support. This means that you can now have multiple people, or at least multiple Gmail accounts, running in Chrome simultaneously. However, it's not "people-secure," meaning that although your data might be secured on Google servers, once an account is logged into Chrome, you don't have to re-enter in your account data. Anybody with access to Chrome can see your stuff.

Please note that there are at least four versions of Chrome available at the moment, and this review only addresses the "stable" branch, intended for general use. Chrome beta (Windows (download) | Mac (download)), Chrome dev (Windows (download) | Mac (download)), and Chrome Canary (Windows (download) | Mac (download)) are progressively less stable versions of the browser, and aimed at developers.

Installation
Chrome's installation process is simple and straightforward. If you download the browser from Google's Web site, it will ask you if you'd like to anonymously submit usage statistics to the company. This can be toggled even after the browser is installed by going to the wrench-icon Preferences menu and choosing Options, then Under the Hood, and checking or unchecking Help Make Chrome Better. Depending on your processor, the installation process should take less than 2 minutes.

Interface
Google's Chrome interface has changed remarkably little since its surprise debut in September 2008. Tabs are still on top, the location bar (aka Omnibox) dominates the minimalist design, and the browser has few visible control buttons besides Back, Forward, and a combined Stop/Reload button. Although some users may not like having the tabs on top, we find it to be aesthetically preferable because it leaves more room below for the Web site we're looking at.

One change has been to remove the secondary Page Options button and combine it with the Preferences wrench icon to create space for extension icons to the right of the location bar. As it currently stands, it could be better organized. Some controls, such as page zoom, are readily available. Others, such as the extension manager, are hidden away under a Tools submenu.

Chrome's extensions are fairly limited in how they can alter the browser's interface. Unlike Firefox, which gives add-on makers a lot of leeway in changing the browser's look, Chrome mandates that extensions appear only as icons to the right of the location bar. The benefit is that this maintains a uniform look to the browser, but it definitely limits how much the browser can be customized. Chrome doesn't support sidebars, either, although other Chromium-based browsers (such as Comodo Dragon) do offer the feature. There is an option in Chrome's about:flags, a series of experimental features, that lets you move the tabs to a sidebar.

A minor change in Chrome 11 moved settings pages to their own tab, rather than a dialog box. Chrome 12 extended that configuration to Chrome's synchronization feature. If you sign up more than one Google account in Chrome 16 or later, you'll see the profile icons in the upper left corner on the tab row.

Even with its limitations, the interface design has remained a contemporary exemplar of how to minimize the browser's screen footprint while keeping the browser easy to use and versatile.

Features and support
Chrome 16's features are accessible from the Preferences menu via the wrench icon on the right side of the navigation bar. Version 16 offers a complete range of modern browsing conveniences. The basics are well-represented, including tabbed browsing, new window creation, and a private browsing mode that Google calls Incognito, which disables cookie tracking, history recording, extension support, and other browsing breadcrumbs.

Chrome is based on WebKit, the same open-source engine that powers Apple Safari, Google's Android mobile platform, and several other desktop and mobile Web-browsing tools. However, Chrome runs on a different JavaScript engine than its WebKit cousins, and there are other changes as well.

Along with hardware-accelerated 3D CSS in Chrome 12, we got some interesting security improvements. You can now delete Flash cookies from inside Chrome, which makes sense given that Chrome comes with Flash built in, and there's a new Safe Browsing protection against downloading malicious files. Chrome's Web app support, which debuted in December 2010, now includes the ability to launch Web apps from the location bar. This gives keyboard jockeys a bit more power to avoid mousing around, more readily apparent in Chrome OS but nevertheless good to have in the regular old Chrome browser.

Mac users now get a warning window when using Command-Q to close the browser.

Print preview, formerly a small but glaring hole in Chrome's feature list, is now present in the Windows and Linux versions. Chrome stable for Mac still doesn't have the feature, which is powered by the PDF reader that comes built into Chrome.

Chrome's tabs remain one of the best things about the browser. The tabs are detachable: "tabs" and "windows" become interchangeable here. Detached tabs can be dragged and dropped into the browser, and tabs can be rearranged at any time by clicking, holding, dragging, and releasing. Not only can tabs be isolated, but each tab exists in its own task process. This means that when one tab crashes, the other tabs do not. Though memory leaks are a major concern in Chrome when you have dozens of tabs open, we found sluggish behavior and other impediments weren't noticeable until after there were more than 30 tabs open. That's not an immutable number, though, and different computers' hardware will alter browser performance.

Some of the basics in Chrome are handled extremely intuitively. In-page searching works smoothly. Using the Ctrl-F hot key or the menu option, searching for a word or phrase will open a text entry box on the top right of the browser. Chrome searches as you type, indicating the number of positive results and highlighting them on the page.

Account syncing is another area where Chrome excels. Using your Gmail account, Chrome will sync your themes, preferences, autofill entries, extensions, and bookmarks. You can toggle each of those categories, too. It does not yet offer password syncing, although the password manager has a smart show-password option that keeps it visually separate from the site it's associated with.

Chrome also offers a lot of privacy-tweaking settings. In the Options menu, go to the Under the Hood tab. From here, you can toggle and customize most of the browser's privacy and security settings. Cookies, image management, JavaScript, plug-ins, pop-ups, location information, and notifications can be adjusted from the Content Settings button. This includes toggling specific plug-ins, such as the built-in Adobe Flash plug-in or the Chrome PDF reader (which is deactivated by default).

Like Firefox, Chrome gives broad control over search engines and search customizations. Though this doesn't sound like much, not all browsers allow you to set keyword shortcuts for searching, and some even restrict which search engine you can set as your default. Chrome comes with three defaults to choose from: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The Chrome extension manager, bookmark manager, and download manager all open in new tabs. They allow you to search their contents and throw in some basic management options like deletion, but in general they don't feel as robust as their counterparts in competing browsers. For example, URLs in the bookmark manager are only revealed when you mouse over a bookmark, and you must click on one to get the URL to permanently appear. That's an extra click that other browsers don't require.

Two other low-profile but well-executed features in Chrome are autoupdating and translation. Chrome automatically updates when a new version comes out. This makes it harder to revert back to an older version, but it's highly unlikely that you'll want to downgrade this build of Chrome since this is the stable build and not the beta or developer's version. The second feature, automatic translation of Web pages, is available to other browsers as a Google add-on, but because it comes from Google, it's baked directly into Chrome.

Chrome is also a leader in HTML5 implementation, which is uneven because of the continuing development of HTML5 standards. This will become more important in the coming months and years, but right now it doesn't greatly affect interactions with Web sites.

In the realm of security, besides allowing you to disable JavaScript, Chrome will automatically block Web sites that are known to promulgate phishing attacks and malware threats or be otherwise unsafe. The usefulness of this depends on Google's ability to flag Web sites as risky, though, and so it's recommended to use an add-on like the Web of Trust extension or a separate security program to block threats.

Performance
Based on the open-source WebKit engine and Google's V8 JavaScript engine, Google Chrome debuted to much fanfare because of its rocketing rendering speeds. Three years down the line, that hasn't changed, and the stable version of Chrome remains one of the fastest stable browsers available. The less stable versions, with their more recent improvements and bug fixes, are often faster.

You can see CNET's most recent benchmark tests that included Google Chrome; while that particular version of Chrome didn't do too well, the browser has seen a lot of changes since that test and you definitely should not discount it.

Note that to effectively use hardware acceleration you must make sure that your graphics card drivers are up-to-date. Nevertheless, Chrome remains one of the fastest browsers available, and its rapid version update rate ensures that it is consistently competitive.

Conclusion
It's hard to tell which is faster, user adoption of Chrome or its development. Certainly the two are linked, and due in no small part to Google's ability to lay claim to the "fastest browser" title, even when it may not be strictly justified. The rest of Chrome's appeal lies in its clean, minimalist look, and competitive features that justify its still-increasing market share. Chrome is a serious option for anybody who wants a browser that gets out of the way of browsing the Web.

More than just speed in Chrome:

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.7 stars

    out of 3,068 votes

    • 5 star: 1190
    • 4 star: 788
    • 3 star: 439
    • 2 star: 248
    • 1 star: 403
  • Current version:

    3.2 stars

    out of 78 votes

    • 5 star: 27
    • 4 star: 12
    • 3 star: 11
    • 2 star: 5
    • 1 star: 23
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 78

  • 1.0 stars

    "I loved you but not anymore!!"

    February 8, 2012  |   By Googlefan8857

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    None Google has turn into an insecure psycho girlfriend that gets you phone and email pass codes to check on you 24/7. I use to love it!!! But after look at my Google dashboard; consider this a divorce Google our relationship has come to an end!!!

    Cons

    OMG! SO MANY!!! How you disappointed me Google!! Let me count the ways!!! Rose are red, violates are blue, you are like a psycho girlfriend that snoops up on me, so please leave me alone because now I have dumped you.

    Summary

    On a serious note...I am very dissapointed after looking in my accounts dashboard. This is an Ameracan corporation that knows or at least should know the value of privacy but noooooooo not Google. Well back to firefox for good I guess...

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Google aps that keep tabs on you!"

    February 8, 2012  |   By Cowboyup9876

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    Nothing at all it like so many other browsers out there but after looking into my accounts Google's dashboard...I deleted it along with my Google+ and Gmail account too.

    Cons

    If they can't respect my privacy I have no use for it.

    Summary

    Google has more than the needed information on people to give great service yet their services are just like those who know nothing about you. The excuse they been using about how they collect all sort of information to give you a great service and experience its getting old and I do not believe it.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "The google app"

    February 8, 2012  |   By Otmane-EL-RHAZI

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    flexible, fast, user friendly

    Cons

    Crash sometimes, the look could be improved.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Unamerican and Socialist Google..."

    February 8, 2012  |   By nonotyou

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    None unless you see in a positive way how Google acts as a CCCP like multi platform products; such as, a browser, email, social network and so on that's an information gatherer system, that from many of their products gathers different pieces of information about you and puts them all together thus building one profile on you that has you social security number and even up to the food you eat.

    Cons

    I deleted all my Google accounts! Not after imagining what information they had on me; but, after looking at it from their own Google dashboard inside my own Google accounts. Its scary to me to think such things are ok now. I wonder how does it benefit me or anyone having Google know so much about someone, what they do, who they know, and personal information? How is all that information they gathered about me made my browsing, my emailing, or my Google+ experience any better? I went to Disney World and it was the best experience my family and I ever had and I am sure Disney did not begun lifting my fingerprints from our hotel rooms and creating a profile on each of my family members with the excuse of giving us a "great magical experience". If losing all my privacy is the price I have to pay for great service keep your great service Google and give me back my privacy. Disney and others have pulled off giving excellent service without infringing on my rights or privacy you can too.

    Summary

    This is not the country I remember growing up on! We are losing our American way of living! We use to leave our home door open and car keys inside our cars and no one ever intruded or disrespected my privacy before. But now we can't even leave a window half open! We may be safer now so we think... yes... But at the price of our rights and privacy being violated and lost? If we keep going down this path we may never have another 911 but we are still losing because we are losing our rights, freedom and privacy in exchange for our safety.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Ugly looking"

    February 8, 2012  |   By BforPCBeta

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    None! No seriously none at all!!!

    Cons

    A must have if you do not care about your privacy and security!!!

    Summary

    Useless browser its only good for collecting your information for advertising companies and Google products if you like that and love to give up all of your personal information get Amazon browser lol.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Not Your Pick!"

    February 7, 2012  |   By lookingglass300

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    Not much! You will not like what you will see on Google's dashboard trust me go with Opera for private browsing, or SRwareIron if you like the Google like browser and want your privacy too.

    Cons

    Well its just a browser not much to it.

    Summary

    I wouldn't use any of the Google products out there. As an IT expert and listen to my advice if you want you privacy and identety secure I would never use ANY Google products. Remember keeping your personal information private its your responsability. Google has been forced into telling everyone they know everything about you and their unethical information collection practices so beware!!! I wouuld also recomend you using Belarc Advisor are you delete all Google product to make sure they havent left anything behind on your PC to track you.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Boo Google!"

    February 7, 2012  |   By gowest76543

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    None at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cons

    They Google over your every move!

    Summary

    Don't care for it. Don't want it. Do not like it. Do not see any good from it!!!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Dirty Google!"

    February 7, 2012  |   By sayhey8743

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    I saw my own Google Dashboard and I am not happy either!

    Cons

    Is ok for you to track my IP address but all the other information you have on me is really not necessary for you to help me with my internet searching. Google I think you have gone too far!

    Summary

    I feel so violated after looking into Google's dashboard inside my account and to see all the information Google has been collecting on me and yet never told me about it until they were finally made to came clean with it cause they were forced into doing so. I wonder how much more they know about all of us but are not telling us and how long they would have gone without telling us if the goverment would have never forced them into doing so. Google use to be my favorite. Now I hate them. I hope the Google corporation goes belly up!

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "You've gone way too far!!!"

    February 7, 2012  |   By PCmaxall

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    NONE AND AFTER LOOKING INTO GOOGLE"S DASHBOARD IM MAD!

    Cons

    THEY COLLECT MY IMEI PHONE CODE SINCE I USE AN ANDROID PHONES PLUS ALL MY TEXTS, AND VOICE MAILS AFTER I'VE DELETED THEM. MY NAME, MY PHYSICAL ADDRESS, MY WIFE NAME, MY KIDS NAMES, MY PHONE CONTACTS, MY BANK ACCOUNTS, MY SEARCH HISTORY, MY MEDICAL HISTORY, MY STATE ID NUMBER AND PHYSICAL STATS, MY RACE, AND MUCH MORE....REALLY DO YOU NEEEEEEEEEEEEED ALL THAT GOOGLE?? TO MAKE MY SEARCHING EXPERIENCE BETTER!!!??? REALLY!!! ALL YOU NEED IS MY IP ADDRESS AND WHAT THAT ADDRESS SEARCHES WITH YOUR SEARCH ENGINE THAT'S IT!!!!!!

    Summary

    DO NOT USE ANY GOOGLE PRODUCTS IF YOU WANT YOUR PRAVACY AND WHAT TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY PEOPLE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! NO CORPORATION HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR FAMILY'S ADDRESS OR YOUR WIFE AND KIDS NAMES AND THEIR INFORMATION I DON'T CARE HOW BIG THEY ARE OR THINK THEY ARE OR THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH. DELETE ALL YOUR ACCOUNTS WITH GOOGLE! ITS NOT WORTH IT THEY AREN'T WORTH IT!

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Can't Trust This! Is Hammer Time!!"

    February 7, 2012  |   By monkeyPC

    Version: Google Chrome 16.0.912.63

    Pros

    None! Nada! Zero!

    Cons

    Can you trust a greedy corportion with greedy people managing it who are unethical? I sure can't and I won't do it either. So I deleted all Google products after doing some investigation on Google Inc. Do you know that Facebook, and Tweeter with the FTC are fighting with Google because Google is invading our privacy more than what they are telling us (their customers). Call me crazy but if the FTC has gotten involved it means one thing! It's true!!! So good-bye Google! I deleted my Google Chrome, Google+ and Gmail accounts. Good things there is compatition out there and I got other companies to go to for search engines, emails, and social networks that callect some information or none but not as much as Google collected on me. Go to Google's dashboard and if what you see there about you doesn't bother you and you trust those unethical guys with it then stay with them. But good luck because when you play with snakes your chances are not in your favor.

    Summary

    Can't trust Google Inc. and its greedy officials with my personal and vital information being looked upon by many of their employees! I can't!

    Reply to this review

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Results 1-10 of 78

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