Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Google Chrome Final (for now) Observations

Google ChromeI've been using Google Chrome since the date of it's release [find prior posts here]. I originally committed to using it exclusively for seven days, to run it through the paces and see if I felt it could be a suitable replacement for Firefox.

I have found many useful features in Google Chrome. It is the fastest browser I have ever used. It loads quickly, loads pages quickly, and uses very little screen real estate, making every web page you visit more viewable. It integrates well with Google Gears (in fact, Google Gears is part of the installation of Google Chrome). And it has a cool application feature that will create a shortcut to any web page as if it were an application, and will then launch that web page in a version of Chrome that uses even less screen real estate.

There were several things I found that I didn't like about Google Chrome. No extensions, which is a hard thing to adapt to for a long time Firefox devotee. It renders RSS feeds terribly (not at all, really), and makes subscribing in Google Reader just a bit cumbersome. Recently I discovered that the link to create a Google Calendar event from within Gmail does not work at all -- Chrome's Pop Up Blocker kills the process. And I have never been able to get Flash Video (i.e. YouTube) to play reliably within Google Chrome.

FirefoxWith such poor integration between Google's Chrome web browser and their own online services, in addition to the sacrifices I have had to make to switch from Firefox to Chrome, I have switched back. That's right, I am now using Firefox again. Google Chrome is just not ready for prime time. Based on everything that Google does, I'm sure that Google Chrome will improve. But, for now, I just can't settle for the unreliability and sacrifices required to make the switch.

That isn't to say that I didn't learn a few things from my time with Google Chrome. The first thing I did upon returning to Firefox was to trim out unneeded extensions, thus speeding up program start up a bit. I also removed the unneeded toolbars (Google Toolbar, Bookmarks Toolbar) to save screen real estate. The Bookmarks are all accessible from Google Bookmarks, requiring only one button on the toolbar, and the Google Toolbar buttons I most use (including Google Bookmarks) have been easily moved into the top toolbar in Firefox, where they take up no additional screen real estate [screenshot below].
Firefox Toolbar

I have already found myself feeling more comfortable with my old favorite, Firefox, even though it is still just a bit slower than Google Chrome. But, Firefox promises to have that fixed soon.

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