Google Chrome doesn’t need any introduction to most of our audience. They almost saved us from the Satanic clutches of an Internet Explorer 6 infested world. With 3D rendering support, quick adoption of HTML 5, fastest JS engine (Wait.. That was before IE10), prettiest UI (again, before IE10) it wouldn’t be unfair to say Chrome is the most loved browser, under the sun.
Incidentally, Chrome turned 4 this month, and it is only fitting to celebrate their birthday with our readers here. Today, we’re going to see what makes Chrome so special.
Author’s note: I’d usually love to tell the story of the product from its inception, but Google’s sexy time machine here, kind of ruined it for me
Browsers were the talking point of the geek town back in 90’s when Microsoft and Netscape were fighting it out. But once MS won the war, browsers ceased to be in the limelight. From a technical standpoint, they were clumsy. Controlled by large corporations, browsers used arbitrary standards to render pages, which were broken most of the times. Browsers were terribly unstable: All your tabs were bound to crash whenever someone had misplaced their scripts, and that 3-page long email you were typing goes right into hell, in front of your eyes.
So, Google decided to do what Mozilla did for the free web, only bigger and better. The idea was to free the web from the hands off the agents of monopoly, and open up the gates for all. Chrome was born on September 2, 2008, admist thunderstorms and dragon showers. All the code was available to the rest of the world, as a part of Chromium.
What Makes Chrome So Fresh?
Sure, Chrome is all about building a free web, but that’s not all. Mozilla was working towards that since Google was in its infancy, they didn’t get anywhere, that’s a different story. Chrome built their product on Webkit, same as Firefox, only better.
Improved Process Handling
As we already saw, browsers were horribly unstable. Whenever you summon a new tab or a new window it spawns a new thread, but it’s still a part of the same process. So, when a script in a specific page gets crazy, it kills the whole process. Chrome changed this behavior and treated every instance of the browser, be it a new window, or a tab, as a separate process, and when something goes awry, you lose only that instance.
It’s not always the web developers to blame. Plugins are equally capable of brain draining your PC. Chrome efficiently pairs the extensions into several separate processes and as always, you lose only that specific add-on than all your hard toiled work along.
As an added bonus, we get a task manager along with Chrome. It lets you analyze, the memory usage, CPU utilization and figure out who is misbehaving, and boot them out of your space.
Browser interfaces are so ’90s (Yes, I’m talking to you Mozilla!). A menu bar with so many options, is absolutely useless. Well, lets think about it, when was the last time you took a second into File or Edit menu? I personally use it to open up the settings, or to switch to Private Browsing, both which could be wrapped up in a couple of buttons- the Chrome Way.
Search is an inextricable, integral part of our web lives (I don’t know how I would’ve survived back in college, without Google). Google, being world leaders in search, obviously understood it better than the rest of the crowd, and is well integrated into the browser with Omnibar. If you ask me the best thing that they’ve done so far, it is them losing the search bar. People seldom use both search and address bar together, in which case, it doesn’t make any sense to separate them.
Another useless interface element, usually found in all the browsers, is the empty pixels on top, just to say the browser’s name (I know the name of the app if I can open it, Thanks!), eating up precious pixels on my screen.
One of the fundamental differences between Chrome and other browsers is the way treat web pages- everything is an application, from our mail client to the video sharing site. Taking a page from Apple’s iTunes Store, Google brought the world of apps to us, right in our browser. With so many useful productivity apps, including Cut the Rope (C’mon! It helps me focus), it gets the work done.
In this age of mobiles, we carry several devices along with us, but everything has its own settings. Personally, I’ve hundreds of bookmarks, and I’d be at a loss without half of the data. Plus, there’re apps that we’ve installed, trust me, it’s not cool to keep reinstalling all your favorite apps all over, in all your devices.
Chrome lets you login with your Google account and sync up all your settings, apps, bookmarks. All your data are available in the Cloud and can be retrieved from anywhere, anytime.
The web is open to all. We’ve websites in all languages, and often we stumble upon web pages from Mars. We used to copy the text or send the URL to Google Translate. After a while Google integrated it with Chrome, making our lives a lot more easier.
The first decade of the new millennium saw a great surge in graphics and games. Online gaming was touted as the next big thing back then, with Adobe boosting Flash as the frontrunner, but Flash was naive and was unable to do any serious stuff.
While the rest of the world was fist fighting with their open source project O3D, Google brought the delight of powerful 3D rendering to our browsers.
IE as usual was problematic, and Google, the Big Daddy for Open Source projects, chipped in their support. Chrome, in line with WebKit, supports all major HTML5 and CSS3 specifications. On a tangential note, for all number crunchers, Chrome has swept all ACID tests under the carpet, with a neat 100.
In contrast to native applications, web apps are strongly confined within the walls of your browser. They aren’t passed on with the benefits of your high-end GPU and are left to fend on their own. This made it impossible for developers to create quality assets on the web.
Introduced by IE9, Chrome went on to support Graphics Hardware Acceleration from Chrome 10. For those of us who don’t know what all the hoopla around Hardware Acceleration means, it’s a technique where the browser is allowed to share the computing power of your video card, for a blissful visual rendering.
Some things are personal, Browsing included. There are a few things which I want to keep out from the outside world, and with Incognito mode I get to do that exactly. Sure, other browsers support similar feature, but Chrome handles things a little differently. All the add-ons are disabled by default in the incognito mode. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing depending on the time of the hour you ask me.
The logic behind this is that, browsers have little control over what the third party apps track. On the other hand sometimes browsing gets annoying without all my add-ons, especially Adblock.
IE made it incredibly difficult for developers to analyze their code. Firefox was the most preferred tool, thanks in large to Firebug, until Chrome entered the space. Chrome’s Inspect Element is such a Godsend, especially I’m dealing with a huge script at midnight.
Even though Firefox was around with us for a while, IE was still dominating the Browser market. Firefox was very unstable (nothing much has changed yet), forcing most of the crowd to stick with IE. When Chrome came in they literally swooped in on their heads and stole their thunder (and largely, their customer base). At present Chrome has a little less than 35% of the browser share, while Firefox is down to 24.
Web has come a long way since the primitive browsers came by. There is a paradigm shift in the way we see web today. It has become a more mature platform for sharing information, communication, and even play games- stuff that weren’t even imaginable a few years back. So it makes sense to build a new browser from ground up, rather than adding more useless features, and that’s exactly what Chrome does, and that’s exactly what makes it so special.
Chrome is one of the best modern browsers in store today, But IE is closing in on Chrome, after IE9, and with Windows 8 on cards, yet another browsing war awaits us.
What was the first browser you’ve used? Hop-in in our comments section, and let us know your thoughts, Thanks for reading!