Browsers have come a long way since the days when Mosaic was your only option and the big new feature was the ability to display images in-line with the page text! Wooo! Today browsers offer an amazing array of options for customization, theming and personalization.
In my opinion Google’s Chrome leads the pack in customization and plugin availability, long ago closing the gap with Firefox add-ons while offering a slick, minimal, and highly customizable interface.
Like any other war, the opposition also advanced. Microsoft made big improvements to the look and security of Internet Explorer and Firefox found a way to duplicate some of Chrome’s more popular features. Where IE falls down is the user’s ability to customize the browsing experience. For too long Microsoft was stuck in the world of ActiveX while Firefox and Chrome ran with the more popular plugin model.
Here are five reasons why Chrome has earned a place as my default browser.
But Google has been able to push Chrome with one massive advantage that even Apple hasn’t been able to match: The ability to integrate the browser with other apps and services from Google. Google’s focus on the browser as an extensible gateway to the internet is the key to pushing advancements in integration between the browser, desktop and cloud services.
By far the biggest plus is nearly seamless integration between the web and Google Apps. That’s why I believe Google will continue to dominate, particularly on mobile devices.
Another point in Chrome’s favor is the minimal interface. There’s just one bar across the top for web addresses and searching. Even Firefox with most of the menus disabled still has a menu row for browser functions above the address bar and a separate area to enter search queries. It doesn’t seem like much but there’s a lot more page real estate in Chrome. The browser stays out of the picture and I like that.
Awesome Tab Management
Grab tabs and move them around, pull them off the tab bar to open up a second instance of the browser, grab that new instance and stick it back on the tab bar. Yes, I realize Firefox does that too but the implementation just seems smoother in Chrome.
The New Tab Panel
This is one feature Firefox was smart enough to copy and I give Mozilla credit for not being too proud to admit a competitor had a better idea, but the implementation isn’t quite as smooth as Chrome.
A very handy Chrome feature for anyone doing a lot of research online, particularly in the sciences. The little window at the top asking if you Google to translate this page is wonderful step saver.
For all the love there are some things I don’t like about Chrome.
Peculiar Scripting Errors
Web development is hard when you have to support different browsers on different platforms but you would think a company with the resources of Google could make their own pages work on their own browser. Yet, almost inevitably, if I run into a page that loads blank or has portions that don’t load, it’s one of Google’s own services. A peculiar and embarrassing oversight for a company that otherwise has taken over the world.
Support Still Lags
The last time I had a problem with a Microsoft service I talked to a real person who helped me straighten things out and made some very good suggestions for improvement. I have only spoken to a real person at Google one time and that was a paid Google Business implementation back in 2010. Until that time I had a conspiracy theory that there were no real human beings at Google and that it was merely a front for intelligent machines working to take over the world.
Integration With Their Own Services Is Incomplete
Okay, maybe I should give Google more credit. After all, the first versions of Chrome to come out were not good to put it mildly, but the development team has been spinning out excellent upgrades ever since. Still, there is so much more they could be doing.
The integration with Google Plus, Maps and Drive could be vastly improved. It seems absurd I have to keep going back to Firefox for FireFTP! All the pieces are there but it’s just not coming together. Likewise the integration with shopping sites and Google’s own payment system is similarly incomplete.
Perhaps Google is deliberately slow-walking some of these changes to avoid anti-trust issues or, more likely, they’re focusing the big integration efforts on mobile apps and devices. All I know for sure is I would have a less productive experience online without Chrome but the things it won’t do are sometimes really annoying.