CNET Editors' 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.
Google Chrome has matured from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative, standard-bearing browser that people love. It's powerful enough to drive its own operating system, Chrome OS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 20, offers highly competitive features, including synchronization, autofill, and standards compliance, and maintains Google's reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.
Chrome 20 represents a major milestone for the browser, but those expecting to see dramatic changes in major version-point updates will be disappointed. For a while now, Google has been pushing features over what it calls milestone numbers in a rapid-release cycle, 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
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.
There's also Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS.
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.
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.
Settings pages get their own tab, rather than a dialog box. If you sign in to more than one Google account, 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 a browser's screen footprint while keeping the browser easy to use and versatile.
Features and support
Chrome 20's features are accessible from the Preferences menu via the wrench icon on the right side of the navigation bar. It 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.
Along with hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, there have been 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 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.
There's Native Client, too. Also known as NaCl, it's 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.
Chrome offers malware scanning on Web pages to include downloads, and the precaching tool for loading sites in your search results early now works with the Omnibox location bar.
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.
You can sync tabs and their browsing histories to other computers and devices such as Android and iOS in Chrome 20.
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 does well. Using your Gmail account, Chrome will sync your themes, preferences, autofill entries, passwords, extensions, and bookmarks. You can toggle each of those categories, too. Extension syncing has been the roughest of the lot.
Chrome has 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 in to Chrome, you don't have to re-enter your account data. Anybody with access to Chrome on your computer can see your stuff.
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.
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 auto-updating 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.
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. It finally has extended hardware accelerated graphics to older Windows and Macs courtesy improvements to WebGL support and changes to Canvas2D.
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.
Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the Web faster, safer, and easier. Use one box for everything--type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and Web pages. Thumbnails of your top sites let you access your favorite pages instantly with lightning speed from any new tab. Desktop shortcuts allow you to launch your favorite Web apps straight from your desktop.
What's new in this version: Along with security fixes, this build contains an update to Flash player, v8 (22.214.171.124) and couple of stability/bug fixes.
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All versions:3.4 stars
out of 118 votes
Current version:0 stars Be the first to review this product
My rating:Write review
"It's okay browser"
Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.65
It is fast. But that's not a plus point of this browser as there are other browsers available which are equally fast, Safari, iCab and Sleipnir and others. People overtly brag about its speed. Chrome does not even stand close to iCab and Sleipnir when it comes to features.
As everybody knows it logs users matrices. It also intrudes in Safari''s settings. When I installed it and ran for the first time i noticed it collected all Safari's history even though I had turned off import Browser history. It shows its bookmarks in Safari's Bookmarks Collection. Chrome should mind its own business.
All versions 25 and 26 of Chrome show beach balls for sometime. Its a big memory hog when multiple tabs are open.
Have not found anything interesting about this browser.
"Best browser I've used"
Version: Google Chrome 25.0.1364.172
Fastest browser on Mac OS X
Lots of free games and apps
Well there must be something
"Ok, except for confusing histoy listing"
Version: Google Chrome 25.0.1364.152
"At What Price Performance"
Version: Google Chrome 25.0.1364.99
Though hardly heads above the other major players, Chrome is a solid, stable platform that performs well. On a par with anything else out there at this time.
Privacy. Or rather, lack thereof. Chrome is already infamous for following and logging practically your every key stroke, and using that information for its own benefit. The one brief paragraph on this subject, all but lost in the above review, is shameful considering how much Chrome uses your data beyond any other browser. This is a significant downside to Chrome, and deserved much more attention.
Chrome's so called privacy settings are a joke. No other browser follows and stores so much of what you do for the benefit of Google. What privacy settings there are barely limit the amount of information Google collects about everything you do and everywhere you go.
If you are okay with your entire life being an open book to Google, and with having no idea what Google will do with that information, by all means use it. It's a solid browser except for this one fatal flaw.
But if you are at all concerned about more and more of your life being mined by huge corporations who answer to no one, you would be insane to use this product.
"I love it except the gobs of memory it uses on MACs"
Version: Google Chrome 25.0.1364.99
All the wonderful things about Chrome especially syncing across all my computers both PC and MAC. The multiple tabs and ability to check tabs opened on my other devices. Plays well with iPad and iPhone (those versions). It is too bad Google+ decided to steal all my pictures. It was a no brainer to use Google+ with Chrome but once they started just lifting my pictures without my permission bad google bad.
It eats gobs and gobs and gobs and gobs of memory. I had to add more RAM to run it. Now running 8Gig. And now it spins like a top.
This browser will frustrate MAC users who are running only 4Gig of RAM. It was worth it for me to upgrade to 8gig because I want to sync all my computers and tablets with Chrome on my MAC. I notice Firefox is lifting some things from Chrome now where the blank tab in Firefox now shows pages frequently visited. Ha! Every time I open Firefox is wants to add 15 things. Too much work. Chrome is effortless.
"Is this the same browser? It's horrible!"
Version: Google Chrome 24.0.1312.57
None, it's a pain from the first time it opens.
1. Uses WAY too much RAM, with dozens of "Google Renderer" listings, adding up to over FOUR OR MORE GIGS OF RAM!
2. Keeps having all my keychain permission windows popping up, like a Sorcerer's Apprentice nightmare! And even when I allow it, it won't log me in to various sites!
3. It eventually just stops functioning, I click, nothing happens, try to open tabs, nothing happens, & it keeps telling me it can't open it due to "timing out".
4. A royal mess all around. I try it every six months or so, after updating it to newer versions, and just never improves...
Don't know how in the world CNET calls this crappy browser "Spectacular", of course CNET also says the same about the new iTunes 11, which has met with pretty universal dissatisfaction from Apple users. This browser has always been a major frustration & waste of time....Didn't see anywhere it asked, but this is for the most recent version, 24.
Updated on Feb 20, 2013
"The quickest browser"
Version: Google Chrome 23.0.1271.95
Very fast browser with lots of useful options.
It doesn't ask me where to save the file before download.
In general I like this browser and it's number one for me.
"Chrome is great! But..."
Version: Google Chrome 23.0.1271.95
It really is Incredibly fast
Pretty darn Stable - Pages will crash now and then, but for the most part very good.
Flash Built in which is always a bonus
Each tab is a separate instance of Chrome.
Uses up a huge amount of memory - especially if you leave a tab open.
It's a great system - and I like the fact that it's almost crash proof - but what that means, and what general users don't understand is that everything is a separate process. This means that while being almost crash proof (as a browser as a whole) It's incredibly RAM hungry!
It uses something like half of the ram I have available in an older MacBook Pro (4GB!)
"Very Good with one MASSIVE flaw..."
Version: Google Chrome 23.0.1271.95
Fast (Chrome and Safari 6 run neck and neck)
Forces AMD Discrete Graphics in 2011 MacBook Pros
Google Chrome is a very refined browser, though I prefer Safari (just personal preference), but it has one MAJOR flaw that keeps me from ever using it...
Google Chrome forces my MacBook Pro's Discrete AMD Graphics which cuts my battery life by 40%-60% and causes overall system heating. I have read many posts (on Apple Discussions, MacRumors, and Google Discussions) on the issue, although I'm surprised more people don't complain about it. On any site that uses advanced graphics, Chrome forces hardware acceleration which kills battery life. Even cnet.com activates AMD with Chrome. . . really? I don't know if this issue affects 2012 Macs, but it is a serious issue for notebook users. Safari and FireFox do not do this.
You can check what your system is using by clicking the Apple>About This Mac>More Information. It should say Intel instead of AMD (Or Nvidia for new/pre 2011 Macs) unless you are using an intensive program like iPhoto or iMovie.
This is an unacceptable flaw that renders Chrome useless.
"Was very disappointed!"
Version: Google Chrome 22.0.1229.94
None at this time
None at this time
Was very disappointed alot of things didn't work properly, but jus to be sure gonna try it again. Then I'll rate it.
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