So, as some of you know, I'm a long-time user and lover of Firefox. It's not perfect, and the memory leaks have wreaked hell on my laptop, but I've just always loved the sheer range of customization it allows. From simple themes to all manner of add-ons, it's always been good to me.
However, after a while tinkering with it, I think I finally managed to break my Firefox installation. Aside from the increasingly frequent crashes, I somehow broke FF's ability to save cookies after closing. So, while I still love my Firefox and will probably keep using it if only for the downloader/converter app, I decided it's finally time to look into getting a new full-time browser.
I've heard enough by now about this Google Chrome thing. I've enjoyed Google's various sites and services for sometime now. I know a lot of people were freaked when Google bought out YouTube, but to me all it means is I get to log in to both at the same time. And while AdSense hasn't exactly made me rich, it's comforting to have around just in case I achieve Internet notoriety someday.
So, I finally broke down and installed Chrome. I'm typing up this post now, after having had it on my computer for less than 12 hours. I'll probably have a fuller review later, but right now I already have a few first-impressions to talk about.
For starters, I think it's safe to say that any long-time Windows users will be thrown for a loop by Chrome's layout. The interface is very minimalist; the main menu bar I'm used to seeing at the top of every window outright doesn't exist. But still, Chrome provides just about all the tools I could want in a browser, just not in the places I remember them.
There are a number of cool features, some of which I haven't even had a chance to use yet. For one, there is tabbed browsing, which is pretty much a browser must-have these days. Hell, even IE has tabs now. But Chrome has a new way of doing tabs. Instead of just a blank page, it loads up a shortlist of pages you've visited before as suggestions. If you ever forget the URL of a page you were at recently and neglected to bookmark it, this can be quite handy.
Speaking of bookmarks, Chrome boasts that it can not only bookmark your pages, but save pages into apps for you so you can access them again quickly and easily. I haven't tried this one yet, but I'll let you know what I think.
Of course, being a product of Google, Chrome has integrated Google search functionality and navigation error suggestions right into the address bar. And on the off chance you somehow dislike Google's search capabilities, you can choose a different default search engine as well.
Chrome also has a lot of nice behind-the-scenes stuff built in. It uses this DNS pre-fetching thing to help pages load and reload faster, comes with its won pop-up blocking app, and has numerous other security features to protect against known threatss. Today, for instance, I was visiting a site which used automated ads (as many do), and when an ad from a suspicious domain name appeared, before I even saw it on the screen, Chrome immediately stopped loading the page and warned me about the ad before continuing. Pretty sweet, Chrome.
And, if you're really feeling rowdy, you can also play IT-guru and do some amateur debugging with Chrome's built-in task manager application. I can't vouch for how well it works, though. I haven't really had cause to use it yet. According to my system, Chrome runs on around an average of 30 MB of memory, which is less than half what my broken Firefox did on good days. For my little-laptop-that-could, this is a very welcome upgrade.
Now, for downsides: as I said, it takes a bit to get used to the layout, and if you're not very technically inclined, you might be pretty lost the first time you start up. Also, I'm not digging the default blue and white color scheme. There's probably a way to customize the skin/colors, but as I said these options are not immediately obvious or simple to access. At least, not to a new user.
Similarly, while Chrome was very helpful in letting me carry over all my Firefox settings, saved pages and passwords, and even my Realplayer plugin, it doesn't have all the custom add-ons I know and love from my Firefox. I don't know yet if Chrome has an equivalent add-ons and widgets network, but I'm still looking into it.
So, I'm liking Google Chrome thus far. It took a few minutes to get used to the UI, but it's serving me quite well so far. It seems to be somewhat lacking in customization options, but that may yet change. At the least, this seems like a nice stable browser for everyday use, which is just what I needed. I'm not ready to call it love at first sight, but I'll keep updating on it as I go. Check back for more later.
Peace and love, you techy nerds. And ff you love/hate Google Chrome, don't hesitate to sound off in the comments.