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Thoughts on Tools - Google Chrome (Web Browser)


Today, I want to talk about Google Chrome (the web browser, not Google's custom operating system).  I'll be honest and say this up front: when I am working on a client website at REM, I primarily use Google Chrome to aid in the process of building the website and testing its functionality.  When I get close to feature-complete status of a website build, I begin testing the website in every desktop web browser available (at least those that have a clear stake in the browser market), but I always return to Chrome as my go-to browser.


I predicted this outcome a few years ago...


Google Chrome did it.  It finally inched above Internet Explorer as the most widely used web browser on the internet.  Have a look for yourself at the browser-usage statistics over the past 12 months: http://gs.statcounter.com/ Engadget also has an article up that clearly shows the advantage Chrome now has.  Click here to have a read of that article.


Those stats speak volumes.  They show that the general user base on the internet has decided there are alternatives to Internet Explorer worth switching to.  Myself, I only enjoyed Internet Explorer 3.0.  That was back in the day when Netscape Navigator was the defacto standard of that time.  IE 3.0 loaded pages faster and generally felt more responsive.  Those days are long gone.  IE had a lot of competition over the years, primarily from Firefox and Safari, but it wasn't until Chrome hit the scene that Microsoft really had to start worrying.


Chrome is fast.


Very fast.  It renders pages faster than most browsers (Safari is currently in the lead, due to it's recent update to use multi-processor rendering techniques) and even when you load it up with extra functionality in the way of plugins and theme modifications, it still keeps on truckin'.  I always install Google Chrome on older computers when I'm tasked with removing spyware due to the use of Internet Explorer.  The average user typically tells me that "...the internet seems faster since you installed Google Chrome on my computer".  They are right!


Chrome is crash proof.


If a tab crashes in Chrome, chances are it's due to a bug in one of the browser's plugins, and not Chrome itself.  However, even if something bad happens, the next time you start Chrome you will be able to re-open all of the previous tabs you were viewing and they will even contain the history of pages you were viewing before the crash.  In other words: you can still hit the back button to go back to a previous page you were viewing!


Chrome is resilient to malware, spyware and viruses.


Chrome is built with security in mind and typically prevents users from viewing sites that are known to spread virus-like files and links.  Surfing the web with Chrome makes the internet a safer place to gather information and view entertainment resources.


The Chrome Web Store has what you're looking for.


Google runs the Chrome Web Store, and it's chock full of plugins, games and entertainment software that runs right within the Chrome browser interface.  Yes, there is even a free version of Angry Birds for Chrome! I can't count the number of times that having that game installed in my web browser has helped cure my nephew's insatiable need to play that game. *grin*


Chrome is a developer's friend.


Developing websites for a living is something I'm very familiar with, and I don't know where I would be without Chrome.  The built-in developer tools that come with Chrome are the most robust set of tools a developer could ask for.  Even if you did need more tools, the Chrome Web Store has more plugins that will provide even more development support.  The ability to quickly dig into a website's structure to determine where a rendering issue might be hiding is priceless.  Other web browsers do contain this support (starting way back with Firefox's original Firebug plugin and Internet Explorer 8's built-in dev tools), but they aren't nearly as fluidly integrated as Chrome's set of tools.


Syncing your settings across all of your devices started with Chrome.


Apple fans will be aware of this feature in the form of iCloud.  Firefox and Chrome beat Apple to this feature years ago, but Chrome does it best.  Every single plugin, bookmark, password, history list and contact is securely synced across my Google account through Chrome, so when I provide my login details in a new installation of Chrome -- say, on a new laptop -- all of my settings are automatically downloaded to the new device and it acts as if I always used that device to surf the web.


Download Chrome now, if you haven't already.


Trust me on this one.  You will be impressed with Chrome.  I've spent many (too many?) years on the web and I've bared witness to every change the internet has brought to the table, from text-based interfaces to the latest trends in interactive content.  Chrome is poised to take on each new interation of technology no matter what it is.  Download it now.  You will be happy you did!

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