I downloaded and installed Google’s Chrome browser today, and I have to say, I’m impressed. It handles tabs better than FireFox 3 does. The UI is clean and intuitive, though no moreso than FireFox’s. It performs well, but not noticeably better or worse than FireFox 3. It has a desktop web app mode – exactly what Prism was supposed to be, only it actually works.
What I find particularly striking about Chrome’s interface is a kind of minimalism that one usually expects to see in mobile software. It makes me wonder if, like Apple bringing Safari to the iPhone, Google might be using the desktop as a proving ground for a browser destined for the Android mobile platform. Use it for a few minutes and tell me if you can’t picture using the same interface on a palm-top touch-screen.
It’s not all roses, however. Chrome is currently Windows-only, a big downside in my book, as I use my MacBook more often than the PC when it comes to web browsing. It doesn’t have all the options that FireFox does. It’s got some quirks – the “smart” address bar can be irritatingly overzealous, and the scroll wheel seems to scroll half a page at a time, with no way to change it. And, of course, all those lovely FireFox extensions I’ve gotten so used to having around aren’t going to work with Chrome. Still, it’s a solid alternative to IE, especially for the more casual web user. Web developers, however, are better off sticking with FireFox and it’s treasure trove of extensions.