Google Releases Chrome 4.0

Google ChromeIt’s been a busy week for browser vendors. Microsoft has been busy patching IE, Mozilla released Firefox 3.6, and now Google has produced Chrome 4.0. The browser is available from the Chrome website or you can update an existing installation by clicking the tool icon, selecting About Google Chrome, and following the update instructions.

Chrome’s come a long way since it was introduced in October 2008. The browser has grabbed more than 5% of the global market share and it’s already in its fourth edition. Although Google has a reputation for keeping products in a long-term beta phase, Chrome version number increases every five months on average. The cynic in me thinks it’s a marketing ploy to overtake Firefox and catch up with Safari. But does anyone care about browser version numbers?

Cosmetically, little has changed between Chrome 3 and 4. The browser has retained its clean, minimal interface and its reputation for speed. There are two major new features:

1. Bookmark Synchronization
If you’ve got a Google Account (who hasn’t?), Chrome will upload your bookmarks to the web. You can access them via a Google Docs folder or synchronize them with any other installation of the browser. As far as I’m aware, Chrome’s the first browser to offer this facility without a plugin.

2. Extensions
Extensions were supported in version 3 but you needed to add a command line parameter to the Chrome shortcut. Version 4 enables extensions for everyone and almost 2,000 are available from https://chrome.google.com/extensions.

Chrome does not have the same quantity or quality of add-ons offered by Firefox, but I suspect it may lure some users away from Mozilla’s browser. However, there are relatively few extensions for developers; possibly because Chrome does not offer the same level of integration enjoyed by Firefox add-on coders.

Other goodies to watch out for:

  • Improved HTML5 support.
  • Full 100/100 ACID3 pass. Chrome now matches Safari and Opera. Firefox 3.6 scores 94/100 and IE 8.0 … 20/100.
  • Performance improvements in all areas.

I like Chrome. It’s a great if you’re surfing the web or using online applications and need a fast, stable browser. In my opinion, Firefox still offers a better all-round experience for power users and developers, but Chrome is catching up fast.

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  • darth

    btw, Opera also offers synchronization out of the box

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    Opera has Opera Link, which will sync your bookmarks for free across multiple computers and make them available via the web. More info here: http://link.opera.com/.

  • http://www.flashminddesign.com flashmind

    What is this Opera you speak of ;)

    In any case this update is a long time coming. I was surprised Google did not have any extensions available upon its official release it should of stayed in beta until it did have them. I will have fun checking them out.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Thanks – my mistake – it’s called “Opera Link Synchronization” and it’s in the Tools menu.

    I should have known Opera would have it! I think the name’s a little confusing though – “Bookmarks Synchronization” would have been a little more obvious.

  • Kolama

    Great post with all the things that should cover.

  • http://www.isquaretechnologies.com SSJ

    Yep. I’ve just upgraded it and I like the Bookmark Sync functionality.

  • so

    I don’t like the version numbers, looks like they only bump it to show that they are more advanced than Firefox and Safari. What we will see in few years Chrome 10? Maybe they will make visual refresh for one version! This sucks! Every new version brings almost nothing, except 4 with extensions and themes. I don’t use Chrome but every time I check to see what’s new in the newest version it’s hard to see the changes. Just silly marketing tricks to get more attention on the news with “look a new version”, like the one with the endless “beta”.

  • http://www.mortier.ca/ Ryan Mortier

    Ah yes, so excited. I’ve been waiting for Chrome to release a stable version of their browser with bookmark sync. The beta and dev channels were awful.

    I completely agree with you, Craig. Firefox at the moment is still the most powerful browser for developers but, Chrome is catching up so fast and is currently my favourite browser for simply browsing the internet. Its speed is unmatched.

    I however, still develop my sites in Firefox.

  • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

    I really like Chrome too and I’ll probably move over permanently when the extensions become more mainstream. At the moment though there’s too many goodies available as addons in Firefox. As you said Craig, it’s only a matter of time.

  • Michael

    I have been using Chrome for over a week and I love it

  • Anonymous

    It’s still a beta on Macs, and no extension support -_-.

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    These extensions — are they still just glorified bookmarklets, or have they advanced further than that now?

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @brothercake
    It seems to be the latter. From Google’s extension center:

    Extensions are essentially web pages

    You can add a toolbar icon, examine tabs, modify bookmarks, and react to some events, but there’s little integration within the browser itself.

  • Louis

    I’ve recently wanted to move over to Chrome, but for some reason I cannot get it to load pages anymore without disabling the sandbox, which is done by appending “– no-sandbox” to the end of the location in the shortcut that executes Chrome.

    I’ve tried uninstalling, reinstalling two different times, and I’ve updated to version 4, and it still will not load pages without the sandbox disabled. I don’t really know exactly what the sandbox is (apparently it’s for testing), but according to this link: http://bit.ly/ce2sVT the sandbox should not be disabled, for security reasons. Nonetheless, I still disable the sandbox to use Chrome for testing web pages and stuff. I’ve even tried changing proxy settings and firewall settings, to no avail.

    It’s quite disappointing since I like Chrome, and don’t care too much for Firefox — leaving me with IE8. I guess I’m posting this in hopes that someone at Chrome will look into this issue and provide a patch or end-user solution.

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    @Louis – never heard of Opera? It is by far and away the most user-centric of any browser. Takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth it.

  • Anonymous

    “The beta and dev channels were awful.”

    You can’t be serious! Chrome’s dev versions haven’t crashed on me once in my year with the browser.

  • xeon

    opera is must better than chrome in every area such as speed, browser , opera unite , opera widget and UI

  • Balaswamy vaddeman

    it’s great to have bookmark synchronization feature without any add on and chrome is really catching up well still as a developer i would like to use firefox because of its features and addons available in the community.

  • http://www.billbolte.com bbolte

    I do wish they’d hurry up with the Linux version…

  • Mike Heath

    These new features are great and all but when is Google going to finally fix the broken XMLHttpRequest in Chrome – http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=2016

  • Not Mike Heath

    Opera has always been the fastest browser. IE was never in the running, but it was hopeful FireFox would have focus on speed. But that never happened.

    Chrome is now the second fastest browser on the market, and it is the first true competitor against Opera.

    Competition is good. We can count on Opera remaining fast, since it has this competition now. The latest Opera is still slower than the Opera’s we were used to years ago, and the excuse is “more features make it slower”.

    Chrome will keep the Opera developers focused on speed, and vice-versa.

  • Louis

    @brothercake:

    You’re right, Opera has a great browser, but unfortunately, I don’t see a future for them in the browser wars. I can honestly see them being bought out by Google one of these days or ending up like Netscape. They have little growth despite probably having the best browser, which is a shame.

  • Louis

    Update on my sandbox issue:

    Well this is interesting, but despite what I posted above in a previous comment, my Google Chrome 4 is now working with the sandbox enabled. First time that’s happened in maybe a month. Very bizarre. Although I did have a trojan/spyware issue on my system for a while that I wasn’t aware of, so clearing that out a couple days ago may have fixed the problem.

  • nevins

    Fantastic post.
    I use chrome on my PC at Home and I found it really efficient and effective.I am really amazed to hear some new stuff about this.
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  • nevins

    I have recently switched to Google Chrome on my PC at Home,Its really very much effective,I quite liked the information above
    Thanks for sharing

  • i8ashroom

    “Full 100/100 ACID3 pass. … Firefox 3.6 scores 94/100″

    When I run the test, Firefox 3.5.7 gets 93/100. After updating, Firefox 3.6 gets only a 92/100. Is there a way to determine what my browser is doing differently than yours?

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @i8ashroom
    That’s strange. My initial thoughts would be that an extension could be affecting the ACID score. Greasemonkey and Adblock could certainly alter the figure, but I’d expect a far larger difference. Otherwise, it may have something to do with our browser settings?

    All I can suggest is that you try Firefox 3.6 on another PC and see if you get the same result.