By Craig Buckler

What’s New in Google Chrome 11

By Craig Buckler

It must have been at least 3 days since the previous Chrome update so now we find ourselves at version 11. Unlike the fanfare which signaled the IE9 and Firefox 4 releases, barely a whisper was heard from Google. The company has decided that version numbering is unimportant. What really matters is regular updates and easy installation so users always have the most up-to-date browser. I concur. Mozilla is adopting a similar policy so let’s hope Microsoft follow suit.

If you’re using Chrome, it’s possible version 11 is already installed. To check, click the Tool icon followed by “About Google Chrome”. The browser will silently download and install the update.

The most noticeable change is the new logo. The old shiny 3D logo has morphed into a simpler 2D alternative:

Chrome 11

I suppose it’s more recognizable at lower resolutions but it’s difficult to muster enthusiasm for the new logo. Do you like it? Do you care? Although it’s a fairly subtle change, I find it strange Google has updated their brand having spent so much money featuring the old logo on Chrome advertising.

GPU acceleration should make your browsing experience a little faster. Chrome hasn’t overtaken IE9, but the browser is no slouch and few people could complain about its speed. Hardware-accelerated 3D CSS effects are enabled by default so we’re likely to see a few more whizzy Chrome Experiments which show off the technology.

Touchscreen users also receive a new Tab Page designed for their devices. However, you might need to enable it in the about:flags settings.

Finally, there’s a new speech input API and, for me, this is the most exciting development. Chrome can interpret your speech and convert it to text in any input field. This has obvious assistive benefits, but I can see it being used in any environment where a keyboard or mouse would be impractical. I’ve been playing with the technology so watch out for a full tutorial on SitePoint soon (assuming I can get it working!)

Please let us know your opinions about Chrome 11…

  • Michiel Bakker

    How about it now being able to visualize XML documents? It rendered a blank page before, with the XML hidden in the source of it. Working with XML quite frequently, this was one of those features that stood at the top of my list of agony.

    Now my list only holds one more item: RSS buttons/icons for websites that have feeds available.

  • chris howard

    It’s a shame it still sucks sooooo bad on javascript heavy pages.

    I was hoping things would be better, but only managed to survive half a day, before giving up and going back to Safari.

    It shows some lag sometimes, but no where near as much. I suspect this is a webkit problem, though.

    Don’t have any js probs with FireFox… it just is a super memory hog.

    I am on a Mac. Be curious to know if PC users have same probs. I’ve heard they don’t…

    • Gabe

      What does it mean that it sucks on javascript heavy pages? I find it odd to believe that V8 can suck at something it completely annihilates in performance. Do you have any samples of pages that are JS heavy? P.S – I’m a PC user, Chrome literally kills in JS execution, FF4 and IE9 are the ones who are way behind when it comes to JS execution – especially FF4. This is coming from user experience point of view, not from looking at “official” performance tests.

      • w2ttsy

        Facebook is a great example. The newsfeed and thumb based chat status box (left column) frequently fail for me. The newsfeed stalls and you have to navigate away or refresh the page to fix it, and with the chat grid, i often get instances where there are 2 thumbs displayed for each user, again fixed by a hard refresh.

        Atlassian apps are another example. Greenhopper in JIRA often dies with the modal box not triggering the parent to update and other weirdity. This is so bad that Chrome support was actually a selling point for Jira 4.3.

        In all cases, FF and Safari are fine. Seems this affects Chrome mac and pc.

      • John

        @w2ttsy – I haven’t experienced any of those problems, being frequent user of FF and Chrome at 3 different operating systems.

        As far as Atlassian apps go – I, and probably a lot more, don’t have access to those so no tests could be made by me. However, saying that a browser whose JS engine is by far most sophisticate there is, is causing a JS hog doesn’t sound very convincing in my book. I’ve extensively tested FF 3 an 4, IE 8 and 9, Chrome 6 – 11 and when it comes to JS, UX was by far the smoothest and the best (subjectively) using Chrome.

  • Alex

    Not that i’m getting hung up on logos but wow I hate that new logo. I thought something was wrong with my chrome when I seen the new icon in my quick launch.

    On another note the speech to text is an amazing idea i’m going to play around with it later today.

    • At best, no one will care about the new logo. At worst, it’ll confuse people.

      The speech-to-text conversion is great. I’ve spent most of today talking to a browser!

    • Sebastian

      That day my laptop happened to be behaving strangely, then I glanced at the taskbar and thought for second that there was something wrong with my screen resolution.

  • Patrick Samphire

    The Flash plugin still crashes Chrome far more often than other browsers. Don’t know why. These days I almost never try streaming Flash video in Chrome.

    • Ben

      I also have lots of trouble with flash video and Chrome, for as long as I can remember.

  • Cazare Hoteluri

    I think Firefox4 is better that GChrome.

    • Anonymous

      Please also motivate your opinion.

      I will keep using FF4 for now as well, because the substitutes of the add-ons i require aren’t as good in Chrome.
      I can’t afford the memory FF uses as i let my browser open 24/7 and use around 20-30 tabs.

    • Gabe

      I agree with you Cazare, FF4 is way better than Chrome in sucking completely.

  • Helen Natasha Moore

    Am *really* liking the new logo. I think it’s crisp /clean /sharp. Think the original’s a bit too shiny /tacky.

    • Mathieu

      I agree. I like the minimalist look. Also, reduces the number of colors required in the pallet just for the logo.

  • Opera has had a speech input API for years … it never really caught on in a big way, because it’s quite complicated to use it properly, and the potential user-base is fairly small.

    Familiar story really — Opera innovates, others follow :-)

    I love the new logo though, it’s 100 time nicer.

    • Mathieu

      Thanks for bringing up this point. I enjoyed trying the voice interface to Opera when it first came out.

      The problem many people will have with voice control/input is where they are working. It will be discourteous to use this in an office cubical or a coffee shop. Still, quite a convenience for a many who work/browse in a private area!

  • Karthik

    Of course! They have changed the logo from 3-dimensional to 2-dimensional

    • Helen Natasha Moore

      I don’t think it’s completely 2-dimensional. It looks like there are some subtle gradients in it. Nice.

  • Sphamandla

    Very little noticeable change but still A good browser however you do have FF4,IE9 which are also provide a very pleasant browsing experience

  • xafaR

    as being CSS developer, many issues faced but. not to descrbe here lol,
    I love FF, nothing competes it, just hate memory about it, what I felt lacking in chrome..still some good session manager and google toolbar as IE n FF got , FF IE Chrome, all are good, just FF rocks among all, without it web development wasnt that easy i guess =)

  • Chromie


  • Google Chrome seems to distort text when viewing.

    Also likes to dominate default browser setting.

    I don’t get that in Firefox (business use) or Opera (personal use).

    I’m very happy with these.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

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