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What’s New in Chrome 14

    Craig Buckler

    Did you notice Chrome’s update this weekend? Of course you didn’t. The browser silently installed itself without you lifting a finger. Select tool > About Google Chrome and you should see version 14 — if not, the update will occur at that point. It’s available on all platforms.

    Google’s six-week release schedule doesn’t normally provide time for many shiny new features but there have been some interesting additions to the browser…

    Bug Fixes, Enhancements and Speed Improvements

    I’ve not experienced many problems with Chrome but several SitePoint users have reported issues. 32 bugs have been squished and, although none were known to be critical, it may address your stability concerns.

    Print preview now works automatically on all platforms. It’s powered by the built-in PDF reader and appears to work well — although some OS X users are reporting unusual issues. Mac users will also be pleased to hear that full-screen mode works; hold down Ctrl+Shift+F.

    As you’d expect, Chrome 14 is faster. That said, it’s already one of the quickest browsers and you’re unlikely to notice improvements unless you’re running benchmarks.

    Web Audio API

    In general, audio on the web is either non-existent, requires a plugin, or is badly used. That could change now developers can get their hands on the W3C API which permits sound processing and synthesizing in JavaScript. Typically, you can apply sophisticated filter and spatial effects to enhance games or application interfaces.

    Google has provided an impressive set of examples. You should definitely check the drum machine, Panning/Reverb and Doppler Shift. Unless you have a few hours to spare, don’t make my mistake of playing 8-ball!

    Native Client (NaCl)

    Chrome 14 is the first version of the browser to have NaCl enabled out of the box. NaCl is a browser plugin which downloads and runs native compiled C/C++ code directly in the browser. The benefits to Google are obvious: their web browser and OS can support sophisticated games, video editors, and other high-end applications which are typically run on the desktop.

    NaCl code runs in a secure sandbox and, currently, it’s only available to web store apps. Google are creating plugins for other browsers, however, the technology is experimental so it’s uncertain whether it will be a viable alternative to Java, Flash and Silverlight.

    For more information, the product manager, Henry Bridge has produced an NaCl introduction video. You can also download the SDK from code.google.com/p/nativeclient-sdk/.

    Google’s smooth update processes and inventive features is winning the hearts and minds of developers and users alike. Microsoft and Mozilla have some hard work ahead if they want to prevent Chrome becoming the world’s #1 browser.