No, actually, Google Chrome is a more than decent web browser. What follows is my personal top five of pros and cons to Google’s brainchild.
First, here’s what I like about Google Chrome.
It’s simple. This is something you’d expect from Apple rather than Google. They’ve done an awesome job at creating a compact and clutter-free, yet functional user interface. Everything you need is right there. Integrating the search toolbar with the location bar is a wonderful move. Borrowing Opera’s Speed Dial also seems to work well for them. I could go on.
It just works. WebKit handles 99% of pages perfectly. Plugins aren’t a problem. Hit a link and the page is there. Simple as that. And contrary to Safari, Chrome is modest enough to leave font rendering to the system.
It’s lightweight. Chrome’s memory consumption is neglectable and it’s seriously fast. Never mind if a test tells you otherwise; Chrome feels like the fastest browser I’ve ever used.
It looks nice. These days, more than ever, the appearance of your software matters. The Chrome developers have managed to create an elegant theme, which is vaguely reminiscent of Google Talk, but far more attractive.
It’s powerful. While mostly invisible to the naked eye—which is a good thing—, Chrome comes with a bevy of interesting
about:URLs that power users will appreciate, as well as the interesting Inspector and Task Manager.
Now, Chrome has also got some serious downsides.
It’s simple. Yes, it works great, it’s fast and the power features are there, but Chrome is not what a guy like me expects from a web browser. No matter how great Chrome works out of the box, I like Firefox’s way of letting me decide how I want to use my browser. Moreover, I’ve grown to love Places and the AwesomeBar.
It’s not for developers. Out of the box, Chrome’s Developer menu is unprecedented. And yet, without an extensible architecture, it’s still unlikely to be a better choice than Firefox with Firebug and the like. Don’t get me wrong: testing stuff with Chrome will be a treat—after I’ve developed it on Firefox.
It uses WebKit. Look, first of all, I think WebKit is a more than decent rendering engine. The Apple guys took the mess that was KHTML and turned it into something great. Moreover, WebKit was the obvious choice for Chrome, even if Google hadn’t already added it to Android. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the Gecko guys, especially since Google employs some key Mozilla developers.
It installs to my profile. Seriously, why is
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome? I assume they were trying to avoid UAC madness on Vista, but if I install Chrome with administrative privileges, I’d at least like to have the option of placing it under
Program Files. If that makes the installer less streamlined, so be it.
I did not ask for Google Update. You’d think recent mishaps with unrequested software updates would have taught Google a thing or two. While I’m sure the EULA justifies it, I did not expect to have
GoogleUpdate.exerunning all the time. I’m sure it’s convenient for them to have a single updater for all their desktop software, and it’s far more secure in the end, but if I don’t require automatic updates, I don’t want to jump through hoops.
In conclusion, for the average Joe, Google Chrome seems like a fabulous browser. In the long run, I don’t expect it to steal Firefox’s thunder, but I’ll reluctantly admit that maybe such an outcome would be justified.