In a matter of two days, Google has shaken up the web by releasing a brand new browser, and a pretty impressive one to boot. Google Chrome is in beta, but it’s fast, and as far as I can tell, stable. And it’s got some amazing new features.
The biggest feature is having one process per tab. That way, one badly-behaving site can’t lock up the whole browser. It uses extra memory, but not much. With the included Process Manager, I can see that a tab with a simple web page uses about 5 or 10 megabytes, while a page like Google Maps typically uses about 20 megabytes. With 8 or 9 tabs open (which is typical for me), the total memory usage came to about 100 megabytes. Firefox, on the other hand, was using 220 megabytes, but I was running it for a few days.
I think, however, that even if Chrome used extra memory it would be worth it, to be able to switch between tabs even while one tab was busy. They didn’t even have to make that compromise, though.
There are also some neat things about the UI. The search bar and location bar are combined. Tabs can be dragged freely between windows. The location bar AutoComplete only shows things you actually typed, not every single site you’ve been to. The history opens up to a full tab instead of a sidebar which winds up wasting valuable screen real estate when the user forgets to close it.
Wow. What an exciting project. This will no doubt keep Google’s ability to recruit new talent going for years to come. Every time things just seem like business as usual at Google, something really exciting comes from them. This is why I chuckled when I read the last item of a list of the Top 10 Reasons Why Chrome Was Developed: Bored Google is bored.