The Chrome Wars


So Google’s little browser, Chrome, has knocked Safari out of the third-place position, making up 4.4% marketshare among browsers, just barely eking it out over Safari at 4.37%. Sure, those are small potatoes compared to Internet Explorer and Firefox, but still significant. The jump is mostly due the release last week of Chrome for Mac, typically the bastion of Safari users. But, as the CultofMac article says:

At the end of the day, though, I doubt this means much: at least on the OS X platform, Safari still reigns supreme, with Chrome only accounting for 1.3 percent of all browsers used on OS X last week. Chrome only beats Safari when you take PCs and Linux into account.

But what is Chrome like for a devout Mac user who’s been using Firefox all along? How does Chrome stand up in that case? Personally, I’ve never warmed to Safari, for whatever reason. So, curious for other options, I decided to take Chrome for Mac for a cruise, especially since so many people have been suggesting it.

My first impression was that it was slower than Firefox, taking longer to load by a few seconds. But not really anything that would impede general surfing. The themes are a cute addition, but most of them obscure the tabs or make the download bar impossible to read so, even with clever advertising and some rather lovely landscapes, I finally picked something on the simple merit that it made it easier to see what I was doing. (Although it is cute.)

I like the large display space, and the fact that everything just feels minimal in a totally good way. Less between me and content. I absolutely love that I can tab through various windows, and as far as display goes I haven’t seen any issues to speak of (and I do a great deal of browsing). Built-in Goole Search is absolutely integral, too, and that makes searching a cinch. The find feature is fabulous, far better than with Firefox, and gives a running count of occurrences on a page in the upper right hand corner instead of the bottom. The highlighting is helpful, too.

The problems are, generally, in the Google Realm itself. For whatever reason, when I’m running GChat, the browser seems to hiccough. Yesterday afternoon the entire browser actually crashed to the point where I had to Force Quit… over a GChat session. And Wave? While it’s tolerably slow on Firefox, my experience let me to give up entirely when using Chrome. The group I was chatting with went for Meebo instead.

Another inconsistent issue, and something I have to use every day, is text formatting shortcuts (command I, command B, etc.). In this case they do work in Gmail, making email sending a cinch, but not in WordPress. Considering I’m writing this from WordPress (on Firefox), you can imagine how irritating that would get after a while. I’ve become very dependent on the smooth toggle back and forth for italics and bold and, while this may seem like a little detail, it’s enough to make me grumpy.

Sure, a browser is a browser, and the differences are minimal. I’m still using Chrome, still working my way around it. I’m aware that it’s in beta, so there are still some kinks (thankfully not as many as in Wave). I think it’s still a contender, but I really hope Google works out its own issues relating to compatibility with its own products. Otherwise, what’s the point to go all-Google?

[Image from Daily Contributor)

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