First look at Google Chrome Alpha for Mac

28th October 2009

I managed to get my hands on the long awaited alpha version of Google Chrome for Mac last week and have now taken it for a serious test drive. Although the browser is far from being ready for Beta, it is looking like it will hurt Safari and Firefox by combining the best features of each of them.

It has been a long time since I had last considered using an alternative browser to Safari. But when I got my hands on Google Chrome for Mac – My browser world was shaken.

Google Chrome

Appearance

My grudge about Chrome on Windows was the ugly blue colour they chose. I love blue, but I don’t want a blue browser, that just doesn’t make sense. Thankfully the Mac version does away with the ugly blue and introduces the beautiful Mac chrome they all we love so very much. Although not the prettiest style, the tabs work very well sitting on top of the address bar as attempted by Apple in the Safari 4 Beta. The only difference is Chrome has enough space to drag the window separately to the tabs – Apple attempted to have all as one, which failed miserably. The address bar, bookmarks and navigation buttons aren’t anywhere near as nice as Safari and Firefox 3, but Google aren’t exactly known for their brilliant design skills. Google Chrome also has themes so if you don’t like the look, just change it.

Speed

Wow. They’re not lying when they say Google Chrome is the fastest browser ever. It is noticeably faster in all aspects, even compared to Safari. Pages load lightning quick and the javascript speed is brilliant. New tabs open virtually instantly and moving tabs around is a breeze. CPU usage is amazingly low which means it won’t hog your computers resources.

Crash Test

Well Chrome does crash a fair bit due to it being in Alpha. But the good thing about it is it’s crash handling. As each tab in Chrome is processed separately, meaning if a tab crashes the rest of the browser will continue to run fine. This is brilliant, now just fix the amount that the tabs are crashing…

Developer Features

As Google Chrome is based on webkit, you get the same developer inspector as in Safari. Anyone who has used Safari’s web inspector will know it is very comprehensive and can easily pin point any problems with your site, javascript or loading. I find it’s much better than Firebug in Firefox. The alpha version however does not allow you to view cookies yet which is a bit of an issue, but this will be introduced before the Beta launch.

Plug-ins

Google Chrome for Mac does not currently support plug-ins, but the plugins I want to talk about are the common plugins that come with the browser, Flash, Silverlight and Quicktime. 1 word, useless. Flash crashes at least once a day, usually more. Silverlight doesn’t even work – not a terrible thing, who uses it anyway? Quicktime barely works, and a lot of the time won’t work at all. This is a big problem for the browser, although it is forgiven as it’s just in Alpha.

Comparison

As I said earlier Google Chrome is a mash of Safari and Firefox. If you took Safari – improve it slightly. Add in things such as the ability to force new windows into tabs automatically (one feature that has been lacking in Safari for sometime), add themes etc. Then take that out of the blender, rework the way tabs are handled and processed, rework the way downloads are handled so you don’t end up with 50 windows open among other things, Google is a clear winner, especially in the Mac market.

Conclusion

Google, why have we had to wait so long for a Mac version, and a version that looks like it’s  a good 6-12 months from Beta? Your browser nothing short of what I’ve always wanted in a browser, yet I can’t really use it every day as it’s too buggy and is missing some crucial features. Most companies these days have caught on to the whole launch Mac + Windows software together, why have you not? I’m not alone on this one, just ask Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Categories: Browsers

Tags: Google Chrome, Mac


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Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Touche! I love Chrome, but hate the fact that you cannot watch the crucial QuickTime movies, that many Mac users rely on.

    Also, on a side note, the Bookmarks Manager does not work in Google Chrome, another let down, which makes me keep Safari in my dock also. If they improved this for the Alpha, Safari would be long gone!

    I also love the way Chrome handles downloads, and how they layout your browsing history, download history and thumbnail views when you launch a new page. All massive plusses in my book and something that Safari handles very shitfully.

    Hurry up and release a proper version Google!

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