Google Chrome 10 is the latest silent update to the company's web browser
As websites become increasingly complex, streaming media becomes more common and applications migrate from PC client-based to web-based, it becomes increasingly important for browsers to be as fast and responsive as possible. In fact, if you spend much time in web-based apps, a speedy browser has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.
Google Chrome 10 comes with speed improvements that make websites load faster and web-based apps run more quickly. It also offers a revamped Options interface, such as improved security and better syncing. Put them all together and you have a winning upgrade.
Note: Google has a built-in update system for Chrome, which means most users are not even aware that their Chrome browser is being steadily monitored and upgraded remotely. If you installed Google Chrome two years ago with version 2 in May 2009, for instance, you may not be aware that Google has already silently installed the latest build - now at v10.
A need for speed
Results showed that Chrome has caught up to the long-time speed champion, Opera.
Chrome 10 averaged 312.23 milliseconds (ms) to complete the tests, while Opera 11.01 averaged 309.97ms, a virtual dead heat. Safari 5.0.3 came in at 406.933ms, with Firefox 3.6.15 well behind at an average 978.37ms and Internet Explorer 8 lagging at 5,035.07ms.
Keep in mind, however, that Internet Explorer 9 is now complete but was not tested here.
Our tests showed Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate proved to be fastest of all these browsers with a 274.6ms average time. In addition, Firefox 4 Beta 12 took 321.3ms to complete the tests, essentially a dead heat with Chrome and Opera.
Feeds and speeds are one thing, but personal experience is another. We can vouch that virtually every website we visited was exceptionally fast and responsive, whether it was a simple, straightforward page, one that featured plenty of graphics or a web-based app.
Happy news for tweakers
The most noticeable change in Chrome 10 is the Options settings, and they'll be welcomed by tweakers and anyone who ever changes Chrome options.
When you click the spanner icon in the upper right corner and select Options (Preferences on a Mac), the menu now opens in its own tab rather than in a relatively small window, as with previous releases, making it easier to find the options you want to change.
More important is that you can now search through Options, so you don't have to hunt around for the feature you want to change.
For example, if you want to make changes to any settings related to downloads or passwords, type in one of those terms, and you'll be sent directly to those settings.
As you use Options, the Omnibox (Google's name for the address bar) displays a local URL for your location, for example, chrome://settings/advanced for advanced settings and chrome://settings/browser for basic settings.
In some instances, an individual Option feature or setting will have its own URL, such as chrome://settings/passwordManager for the Password Manager. You can add this to your bookmarks if it's a feature you frequently use, which we found very convenient.
What else is new
Syncing among multiple computers and devices has been improved as well. Chrome 9 already synced bookmarks among versions of Chrome running on Windows PCs, Macs, Linux systems, with Google Android Honeycomb devices such as the Motorola Xoom being added when they appear. The Honeycomb browser looks and works like Chrome but is actually based on different code, although it syncs with Chrome. With Chrome 10, passwords now sync as well.
The author finds this to be a big bonus, because we use Chrome as our primary browser on our Windows PC, Mac and Xoom tablet. So now when we need to log into our blog or online library account from any of these platforms, we no longer need to remember passwords. Also added is increased security for synced data; your passwords are encrypted so that they can't be snooped on.
It did take some time for us to figure out how to get the syncing feature to work though. Finally, we were able to get it to sync by going to the Personal Stuff options page (chrome://settings/personal), clicking Customise and then clicking OK on the Encryption tab. After that, it took about 45 minutes for all the passwords to synchronise.
Chrome's solid security has also been improved. Earlier versions of Chrome already used a virtual sandbox, in which programs were isolated from the rest of your computer, so that they couldn't break out of the browser and infect your PC.
In Google Chrome 10, the browser's integrated Flash player is now sandboxed as well for PCs running Windows Vista or Windows 7.
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