September 18, 2008

Google's New Browser

Have you tried Google's new open source browser yet? I've been using it for about two weeks now and it has quickly become my browser of choice on my PC (there is no Mac version available yet). However much I like the browsing experience on a personal level, I'm not convinced that this early version of Chrome provides the security required on our public computers. 

Here is why I like Chrome:
  • It's fast. On my home DSL connection my underpowered Vista laptop flys through the Web. 
  • I like the combined search and URL boxes. 
  • Tabbed browsing is always appreciated. 
  • URLs displayed in the URL/search box are shown as such: "" - I think this is a terrific security feature. 
And the final clincher for me? Chrome provides suggested spellings for book title/author searches in I use Amazon every week to look up audiobook reviews and have been hoping for this feature for some time now. 

Here is what I dislike about Chrome (from the perspective of a librarian):
  • When a new tab opens, it automatically opens to a graphical display of the most visited sites - Everyone's sites! I can not seem to reset this option. (If there is something I'm missing, please let me know.) 
  • There is no way to clear private data and history automatically when the browser closes. Each user would need to remember to delete their history and private data. 
I hope that either I've not been able to find these settings or that Google adds them to a new release. 

Would I install Chrome on public computers? Honestly, probably not at this time. Take a look at this paragraph from Information Week: 
One potentially negative aspect of Google Chrome is that it is more reliant on user browsing history than other browsers. Unless explicitly operated in Incognito mode or its default behavior is changed, Chrome records Web sites visited, recently closed tabs, recently saved Web pages, and frequently used search engines. It uses this information to populate a New Tab page when one is created.
Read the full article and user comments. 

Bottom line: Try out Chrome for yourself on your own computer. Are your patrons asking for an open source browser? If so, install Firefox and keep a watch for new privacy settings in future releases. 

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