Till the Chrome Wears Off

I spent all of the past week using only Google Chrome (build 5.0.307.11 beta for the mac) as my default brows­er. I want­ed to post a few of my obser­va­tions as a ardent Fire­Fox user.

Speed

First of all, it is very nim­ble when launch­ing and page loads are fast. To give an exam­ple, I use a three year old iMac Core 2 Duo w 4GB of RAM. I always keep my browsers to load the last set of tabs that were open on clos­ing. For a Chrome to launch and load ten web pages only takes under 13 sec­onds. Addi­tion­al­ly — for you mac nerds — the dock icon only bounces twice. Fire­Fox, eat your heart out.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that the brows­er is always fast (more on this in a bit).

Extendability

Exten­sions are avail­able to replace most all of those that I actu­al­ly used in Fire­Fox; as well as some basic Fire­Fox func­tion­al­i­ty which I was sur­prised was­n’t includ­ed. I cur­rent­ly am using:

  • Chromeleon — a user-agent spoofer
  • Deli­cious Book­marks — a social book­mark­ing tool
  • Tab Bud­dy — a tab man­ag­er
  • Bug­MeNot Lite — a tool for bypass­ing web reg­is­tra­tion
  • Google Voice
  • RSS Sub­scrip­tion — A tool to add easy feed sub­scrip­tions (how was this not inte­grat­ed to begin with?)

Anoth­er nice fea­ture of Chrome is the abil­i­ty to add web-site spe­cif­ic search­es into the address bar, as opposed to Fire­Fox’s sep­a­rate search field, with a drop-down menu to select a search engine. Both are about as easy to add a new site to, but Chrome’s inte­gra­tion feels more seam­less.

The lack of a his­to­ry in the nav­i­ga­tion but­tons annoyed me. I actu­al­ly use that when I’m doing some web search­ing to go back to a point I branched off on my cur­rent rab­bit hole. It made for a lot more click­ing on my part. It seems like the sort of thing that could be eas­i­ly added in, but nei­ther Google or any third par­ty exten­sion writ­ers have done so yet.

Flash & Video

Per­son­al pref­er­ences aside, the real down­side is when it comes to video. Flash is real­ly awful in this brows­er. If found that YouTube reg­u­lar­ly locks up. Pages with lots of Flash-based ads can com­plete­ly choke the brows­er. Fur­ther, Microsoft Sil­verlight isn’t even avail­able for Chrome, which means1 no Net­flix2 That may not be a deal-break­er for many, espe­cial­ly as many users (myself includ­ed) would like to move away from Flash and Sil­verlight. How­ev­er, they are a real­i­ty of the web right now and some­thing I end up using every­day.

I’m also notices some web­site tools don’t func­tion so well in Chrome. For exam­ple (though albeit not a great one), the “Quick vote” poll tools on CNN.com’s site don’t seem to work for me in Chrome. I click Vote and noth­ing hap­pens. It’s Javascript, so I’m not sure what is going on there because as I under­stand it this is the place where Chrome real­ly excels. It’s not the sort of thing that has both­ered me so much I’ve felt the need to even inves­ti­gate it, but some­thing worth men­tion­ing.

Conclusion

I have to admit, I fig­ured that I would find myself need­ing to open up Fire­Fox every­day when using Chrome. Hon­est­ly, oth­er than the occa­sion­al hard-to-remem­ber login or acci­den­tal click, I haven’t missed it at all in over a week of using Chrome. I could eas­i­ly find myself using Chrome full time on my mac and may even give it a whirl on my belea­guered Win­dows lap­top (which needs all the cor­ners cut pos­si­ble in terms of speed).

And, for the Apple fan­boys, my next exper­i­ment is to switch to Safari for at least a week to see how well that brows­er works for me. I haven’t seri­ous­ly re-vis­it­ed it since I got my mac three years ago.

  1. Sil­verlight works fine in Chrome, not sure why Net­flix won’t play nice. []
  2. A Safari-based exten­sion, sim­i­lar to the IE Tab exten­sion for both Fire­Fox and Chrome, would solve this issue. How­ev­er, those are bulky and far from ide­al solu­tions. What’s more, it’s only hypo­thet­i­cal at this point, as no such exten­sion exists for Chrome ont he mac. []