Google Chrome Could Change Web Browsing

Ian Lurie Sep 1 2008

chromeMan, those guys at Google piss me off.

Just when I think they might be getting a little stale, they go and announce a new web browser. And they get Scott McCloud, the brilliant author of Understanding Comics, to announce it in plain language and clear illustration in an online comic.

And, just to really chap my hide as an entrepreneurial has-been, it looks like Google Chrome will be a major step forward in browser tech.

You can read the comic to learn more, but here’s the gist:

  1. Google Chrome will run javascript-heavy AJAX applications faster and better. That means more AJAX applications, which (please god) will mean easier, faster online interaction.
  2. Google Chrome will run using tabs, like any current browser. But the tabs will be the primary feature in the application, up at the top, so the average user will be more likely to understand how tabbed browsing works. [Chris pointed out I did a terrible job of explaining this, so here’s more:] Tabs are moved to the top layer of the browser, so that every tab has its own address bar, own toolbar, etc. So you can use each tab as a totally separate browser window.
  3. Google Chrome will run each tab as a separate process. Think of it like bulkheads in a ship. In most browsers, if a javascript spins out of control, the browser locks up or crashes. In Google Chrome, that (hopefully) won’t happen. If a javascript in one tab goes berserk, it won’t affect the others. So you won’t have to lose your mind when your browser crashes mid blog post or mid-e-mail.
  4. The Google team is redeveloping how their browser interprets javascript to allow for the far more complex scripts folks now write.

The browser will apparently include other nifty stuff: Private browsing, a leaner interface and an integrated look at recently-viewed sites.

A few things about Google Chrome that scare me:

  1. Automatic search suggestions in the address bar. That sounds like a one-way route to the funny farm for me. It’ll drive me insane within a few minutes.
  2. Something about the way Google describes their security API, and its ability to deliver a list of ‘bad’ sites to everyone’s browser, sounds like we’re swapping one security problem for another.
  3. If this browser is as good as advertised, Google really will take over the world.

Overall, though, Google Chrome sounds like a major shift in the way browsers work: From HTML interpreters to a real application platform or, dare I say, operating system?

Don’t worry, I’m still going to wait-and-see. I’m still a cynic. But it’s hard not to get a little jazzed about it. If Republicans can get excited about Sarah Palin, I can get excited about Google Chrome.

Update: I took Google Chrome for a test drive today.

tags : conversation marketing

5 Comments

  1. Chris G

    Chris G

    I’m not getting it. If we already understand tabs (point 2), it’s going to be somewhat faster and a little more bulletproof. And it’ll make suggestions and have opinions about bad sites, like IE. How is that a revolution?
    I think you’re seeing something I don’t see, so the only criticism I’m making is to please describe your vision of major step forward a little more. At this point, it just looks like Google is doing a me-too, with some style.

  2. Ian

    Ian

    @Chris The big change, actually, is to the way the browser will handle javascript and AJAX.
    If you check out the comic, the tabbing change is the way they add a complete interface for each tab – a separate URL bar, a separate set of controls, etc.. I’ll add that in now.

  3. Alex

    Alex

    Chrome sounds interesting to me as a developer, and I breathe a sigh of relief that they’re using WebKit.
    …BUT…
    If they want to erode IE’s market share they will have to offer something more compelling to Average User Joe than this. The kind of people that are motivated by standards support and performance already have Firefox.

  4. Ian

    Ian

    @Alex I suspect they’re hoping developers and marketers will build other stuff with Chrome and popularize it that way, thereby giving them access to more data than ever…

  5. Alex

    Alex

    Presumably Chrome will also be to Android what Safari is to iPhone. So as iPhone is the mythical Apple PDA, Chrome could be the mythical Google OS / Office.
    If they were to release a more full-featured, integrated Google Apps suite with built-in file storage and offline support through Gears, that would be a very compelling reason to get Chrome.
    It’s high time that Google’s products felt less like a disconnected mess, and more like a coherent whole. Chrome could be a catalyst for that.
    If they can claim great Flash performance in the Mac version I’d switch.

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