Programming - - By Craig Buckler

Google Releases Chrome 9

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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