Google Releases Chrome 9

Contributing Editor

You may not have noticed, but your Chrome browser installation has magically updated to version 9. If not, click the Tools icon followed by “About Google Chrome.”

The most exciting feature is WebGL — a new technology which provides native browser hardware-accelerated 3D graphics on the HTML5 canvas element. There are some amazing demonstrations on the Chrome Experiments website:

Chrome is the first mainstream browser to support WebGL, but it should also be available in Firefox 4.0 and IE9. Definitely a technology to watch.

The next new feature is Google Instant. You may have seen this on Google search: results appear and change as you’re typing a search phrase. I’m not particularly overwhelmed by the facility, but Google Instant results can now be viewed when you’re using the Omnibox (the daft name for Chrome’s address bar). It’s not enabled by default — there’s a check box on the Basics tab of the Options dialog.

Finally, US-based Chrome users are provided with a link to the Chrome Web Store on the ‘new tab’ page. The store offers a collection of free and commercial Chrome applications, extensions and themes. If you’re not in the US, you can still log into the store with your Google account ID at https://chrome.google.com/webstore.

Despite being less than two and a half years old, Chrome’s version is now ahead of Internet Explorer and will overtake Opera by the end of the year. It’s all a little silly, of course — even Google’s own blog announcement didn’t mention the number.

However, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Google will have to address the double-digit user agent problem which Opera encountered when moving from version 9 to 10. Although browser sniffing is a terrible practice, many sites check the first digit of the browser version. Therefore, Opera 10 was identified as Opera 1 and the site was blocked or downgraded. The issue is unlikely to affect Google to the same extent, but we’ll know more when Chrome 10 is released in a few months.

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  • Michael

    Get over the version numbering. That’s how they roll, and who cares that MS take a billion years between releases and Mozilla slightly less. Google might as well just use the release date as the version number, it’s not like you get people lagging behind and you have to refer to features/bugs that were in Chrome 5.5 or Chrome 6 etc, all you have to know is what Chrome does NOW in the latest stable release.

    Also Chrome will not have problems with the version number bug. I already use Chromium 10 and it is no issue. There would be no notable sites that have dumb enough developers to assume a 1 digit version number in this day and age, and if they do there is no point in Chrome accommodating them.

    I agree about the underwhelming Instant feature. Cool idea though, but doesn’t really seem useful. Also if it took off I wonder how it would affect site usage statistics, maybe a jump in Chrome market share because the Chrome UA gets passed through on every key stroke. Not for Google Analytics though because you’d need to wait for javascript, but for any server side technology.

    Also you’re right, Firefox’s AwesomeBar has a much better name than the Omnibox.

    • Michael

      As a matter of fact I’m now on Chromium 11. Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US) AppleWebKit/534.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Ubuntu/10.10 Chromium/11.0.661.0 Chrome/11.0.661.0 Safari/534.18

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

      The weird thing is that Google go from one extreme to the other. Their products either remain in beta for a decade or they release new versions every other week?

      I suspect Chrome will not have the same user agent issue because it’s not been around as long as Opera (1994) or IE (1995). Few modern sites should be checking the UA and, since Chrome updates automatically, there’s little reason to bother.

      That said, I bet it affects someone, somewhere!

  • loupblanc

    The link to the chrome webstore has been available since version 8 and not just in the us. I’m in the UK and I’ve been able to access it via the new tab for a few months now

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

      The web store is available to most users, but US Chrome users get the icon. I’m in the UK and the icon appears once I’ve installed an app. However, it jumps to the extensions repository.

      • kaf

        Thats weird, I seem to be getting the icon and I’m in Australia.

        New tabs have an apps section with the app store icon in it. It also installed a few games…

        Is it just UK not getting it?

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

        It should only be US users who get the Web Store (note that it’s not the same as the extensions repository, but they share content).

        It’s possible you’ll get the link if your Google account is set to US settings?

    • ahmadalfy

      I am using version 10.0.648.18 dev
      It’s available to me and I am located in Egypt!

  • Chris_lu

    Nice update !
    By the way, you new RSS feed title is FAAAARRR too long…

  • http://www.patricksamphire.com/ PatrickSamphire

    I realise the sense behind it, but I must admit, I’m starting to dislike the auto-updating of Chrome. I don’t *like* software updating itself on my computer without asking me first. When Firefox 4 comes out, I may well switch back.

    By the way, I’ve been very cynical about the Chrome version numbers, but typing ‘Firefox 4′ makes it feel like FF must be an ancient browser, so Google’s tactic is having some effect. Or maybe I’m easily manipulated.

  • Stormrider

    Looks like Firefox 7 will be out by the end of this year anyway – http://downloadsquad.switched.com/2011/02/07/firefox-4-5-6-and-7-to-be-released-before-the-end-of-2011/

  • Sphamandla

    Google is certainly moving fast on their chrome versions

  • mrbdk

    I find the auto update to be a nice feature, in the past it has also fixed items dealing with existing clients that are using out dated software. Plus there are some great extension on chrome. :)

    Check out my Chrome Extensions, hoping the update does not crash it! lol

    What is Toggle Chat? Toggle Chat basically expands a search engine’s parameters by automatically creating a chat room based on the search topic or phrase. This will allow the user to interact with other individuals searching for the same subject and gain more insight.

    https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/eihlaffnihacoobcpjklfeebpjponako

  • GWD

    why doe sit say it’s still beta (hehe…) v9 and still beta…

  • Laurie

    I no longer can find my ‘bookmarks’ and my bar has disappeared where I had my sites that I go to alot.

    Does someone know where this information is located now???

    • Jo

      Wrench —> Tools —> Always show bookmarks bar

  • Anonymous

    My laptop has crashed, I believe due to the update. It says Google Chrome has stopped working. When I click for it to “Find A Problem”, it says “Restart?,” and then it all shuts down.

    Was this a Google update? A Windows update? It started about 3 days ago.

    I can use the computer, but cannot access online. Which means of course that my McAfee doesn’t scan everything as I get it, either.

    Help, please!

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

      Chrome updates itself — it’s not part of the standard Windows update. Also, just because Chrome’s not working, it doesn’t mean you have no internet access or security updates.

      I’d suggest a full wipe of Chrome followed by a re-install.

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