Chrome: First Impressions

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Google released their first version of Chrome this afternoon and while I am quite disappointed to see only a PC version I can certainly understand it given the vast differences in market share.

Having said that I did fire up my handy dandy virtual machine in order to download and take Chrome for a spin. The first place I went was the Motorola USA Phone Browse page because I wrote most of the JavaScript for it and I wanted to see how it would perform in the version of WebKit Chrome uses. Much to my dismay the display of the page is horribly wrong and it looked like some errors were generated. This made me sad so I rapidly vacated the area and started looking at some other oft-used pages of mine (Gmail and Google Reader) just to get a general feel for how things were operating. Everything felt quite zippy on those two sites but that is really to be expected. (After all, it would just be tragic if the browser developed by Google had issues on Google’s on pages.) So then I decided to check out Processed Tower Defense which is a pretty intense JavaScript application and it ran surprisingly well especially considering I’m doing this in a virtual machine with limited memory resources allocated to it (512 MB). To be honest though I expected the JavaScript execution speed to be impressive, the thing I’m really curious about is how the garbage collection performs compared to other browsers.

The thing I found particularly impressive though was how useful the ‘omnibox’ was, I daresay it was quite a bit more awesome than Firefox 3’s ‘awesome bar’. I’ll go ahead and say a great deal of this is because I really dislike the ‘awesome bar’, I think it falls far short of it’s lofty goals whereas Chrome’s ‘omnibox’ delivers. A big part of the reason I feel the omnibox delivers while the awesome bar falls short is something mentioned in the comic on page 20. Essentially you don’t have to hit the down arrow to get what auto-completion is suggesting because it does it inline and you will only go to URLs you have explicitly typed before.

The feature John Resig dubbed ‘the killer feature’ is something I believe is pretty awesome but it will take a while for the impact John foresees to come to fruition. After all of the six tabs I have open in Chrome right now (Yes, virtual machine is still in effect) Gmail is consuming by far the most resources and Google is often hailed for it’s lightweight applications.

In conclusion, I actually like Chrome in a virtualized environment better than Firefox 3 which is running natively which I think says a fair bit. Of course I’ve also been using Camino over Firefox 3 so perhaps it is just Firefox 3 doesn’t really do it for me.