In the next few days, Google will release an open source browser named Chrome. Google put out an interesting and long comic book that describes the project. Here are my notes from reading the comic.
- Open source.
- Each tab is a process. More speed, better multi-processing, one tab crash doesn't kill browser, just that tab.
- Heavy testing. "ChromeBot" screens browser builds against 10k+ popular sample pages for both crashes and render appearance.
- Chrome currently passes 99% of webkit's layout tests
- Improved garbage collection
- Tabs have their own UI
- Drag and drop tabs
- Improved smart autocomplete
- Home page defaults to a grid of 9 most commonly used pages, plus search boxes from (multiple?) engines
- "Privacy mode" tabs
- Popups stay w/in tab, don't pollute desktop (unless you pull them off to desktop)
- Sandboxing of tabs for security -- simpler security model than Vista (and gets in a dig to MS on that)
- Malware and phishing blacklists, continually maintained, and available to others via API
- Google gears -- enables persistence of apps
- Open source, repeated at length.
Here are some initial thoughts. Opinions, not facts.
- Chrome will initially steal share from FFox, as early adopters embrace speed and features. By 2009, Chrome will begin eating significantly into IE share. Some computer manufacturers start offering Chrome as default browser in late 2009, citing speed, security, stability.
- Chrome will take share based on speed and UI. Each tab running as its own process will make the browser seem far more nimble than IE or FFx or Opera.
- If the comic is any indication, the first target market for Chrome are technical thought-leaders. For example, this isn't your typical comic book dialogue: ...but the ones that sort of look like pointers could also be integers that just happen to have the same address as an object on the object heap...
- Given heavy test suite they've described, Chrome shouldn't impose significant burden on designers.
- Given the heavy test suite, Chrome will be the most stable and consistent browser out there. (We at RKG are big fans of testing, btw.)
- Integration with Gears will enable powerful offline apps. This is a Microsoft threat.
- People will express fear that Google will use Chrome to spy on users. This is unfounded, imho, because (a) the opensource community will ensure there are no malevolent features built in, and (b) Google is already tracking most of us more than we realize, through search and Gmail and Docs
- Ironic: they put a great deal of thought into UI, but the comic itself used an oversized screen and required (on my FFox at least) an annoying scroll
- We've written on the myth of the search query funnel in paid search; Chrome's autocompletion-on-steroids will make the very small funnel effect even smaller.
- Expect to see dedicated shopping bots built as Gear apps. As Adwords Editor (desk app) is 100 times more convenient than Adwords web, so will a Gears shopping comparison engine be 100 times more convenient than current web based comparison shopping sites.
- The malware and phishing blacklists will get adopted widely through their APIs, leading to a safer web for all. Woe to any retailer who intentionally or accidentally gets on the Google blacklists.
- Microsoft should view Chrome as a significant threat. (Indeed, a few comic panels seem obliquely reference IE and Office.) This is much larger than a browser war -- this is the new OS.
- I think Chrome will be great for users. I'm eagerly looking forward to downloading it and trying it out.
In the background of one panel of the comic there's a speed limit sign, indicating a top speed of 10^100.
The sign is right: Google is setting the laws of today's web.