DCChrome Seeing how I haven't installed any beta software lately (yeah right), I figured I jump in with everyone else on the net and see what's up with Google's new entry in the browser market.  If you haven't heard about Chrome yet, then just do a Google Search on it and you'll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future.  The install was small 468k so the download was fast and the install took about 15 seconds so in well under a minute I went from "click" to "play".  Not too shabby.  So, if you too are interested in giving a new browser a shot, here are a few cool features that stick out

One box for everything

Web search. Web history. Address bar. Suggestions as you type. One unified box serves all your browsing needs.

My Take: This is VERY cool.  Ever hated having to enter search terms in a separate edit box in the browser?  Not any more, all the features are integrated into the single address/search/history/etc bar.

New Tab Page

Every time you open a new tab, you'll see a visual sampling of your most visited sites, most used search engines, and recently bookmarked pages and closed tabs.  Other browsers

My Take: Been there, done that with IE8 and never really found a use for it although some might.  There doesn't seem to be a way to configure this on or off but hopefully some day there will be an "about:blank" option for the new tab page.

Application Shortcuts

Use web apps without opening your browser. Application shortcuts can directly load your favorite online apps.

My Take: This feature has been available in FireFox for some time so nothing earth shattering here.

Dynamic Tabs

You can drag tabs out of the browser to create new windows, gather multiple tabs into one window or arrange your tabs however you wish -- quickly and easily.

My Take: This is pretty cool.  There have been times I've wanted to re-organize my 30-tab browser session into a couple of windows and this would be a very easy way to do it.

Crash Control

Every tab you're using is run independently in the browser, so if one app crashes it won't take anything else down.

My Take: Not sure how I feel about this one.  Each tab runs it's own process and already I've got 4 processes going each at about 30MB or memory usage.  How is this going to scale for the 30+tab user.  I like the crash protection but splitting windows up across process boundaries might be a better option unless they can reduce the memory footprint on each tab process.

Incognito Mode

Don't want pages you visit to show up in your web history? Choose incognito mode for private browsing.

My Take: This feature ROCKS!  Ever worried about clicking on that link that your co-worked forwarded to you?  Worry no longer, with Incognito mode, pages viewed will not appear in the browser history and they won't leave any other traces.  Not that I would need that feature though...

Safe Browsing

Google Chrome warns you if you're about to visit a suspected phishing, malware or otherwise unsafe website.

My Take: Again, this is in all the other mainstream browsers out there so it's par for the course.

Instant Bookmarks

Want to bookmark a web page? Just click the star icon at the left edge of the address bar and you're done.

My Take: This will likely save the speed-bookmarker some time, but since I rarely create bookmarks I'm not sure how it will impact my day to day experience.

Importing settings

When you switch to Google Chrome, you can pick up where you left off with all the bookmarks and passwords from your existing browser.

My Take: Again, par for the course.  They needed to do this to get folks to use it.

Simpler Downloads

No intrusive download manager; you see your download's status at the bottom of your current window.

My Take: This is another one that is awesome in my opinion.  I HATE the downloads window with a passion so this will likely be a nice feature to avoid that extra popup hitting me in the face every time I download a file.

Developer Tools

Included in the menus, are the developer options of "View Source", "Debug Javascript", "Javascript console", and "Task Manager".

My Take: Since they wrote their own Javascript engine for this release, they better darn well have a Javascript debugger in there.  The Task Manager (Shift+ESC) is a nice little feature that will show you the memory usage for each component in the Chrome environment (windows, tabs, plugins, etc).  If you are big into stats, then check out the "about:memory" shortcut where you can get all the memory details of each of the tasks.  With all this, it still falls way short of the WebDeveloper plugin for FireFox.  Until more debugging tools come into play, it'll be hard to pry me from FireFox.

Configuration

The browser was built with simplicity in mind and there are only a very small set of configuration options to worry about.

My Take: In the configuration window there are 3 tabs with only a handful of settings total such as proxy server settings, search engine defaults, password preferences, and download locations.  I say AMEN to this one as I find it hard to believe anyone needs all gazillion settings that are in IE and FireFox.

Final Thoughts

The best features by far are the Incognito Mode, Single Address/Search/History bar, and the new download manager.  Oh, and it's pretty snappy to boot.  But, to get me to switch full-time, there'll have to be some more developer tool integration.  But, keep in mind that this is a beta project so I have high hopes that FireFox will finally have met it's match.  Oh, and as an added benefit, DevCentral works GREAT in Chrome!

-Joe