Image via CrunchBase
I’ve been looking at Google Chrome for a while now. I liked the ideas behind it (and I had it in most of my computers because Google Wave only seemed to behave in Chrome for me), but the lack of extensions was just too much of a dealbreaker. One of the reasons why I loved Firefox so much was the ability to customize it to my needs. Last week, I got tired of Firefox again taking forever to load. In looking for solutions, I noticed that Chrome added extension support late last year. Knowing that the only way to really get a feel for it is to completely immerse myself in it, I set Chrome as the default browser on all my computers and went to work.
One of the first things I noticed is that my webpages don’t seem to load any faster, but they fail to load faster in a more productive way. When I want to launch my browser to view a new page, Firefox will wait a few seconds before opening the browser with the page pretty much ready — it does all of its loading as the browser is booting, I guess. Chrome, however, is happy to pop open right away and show me a blank page. The upshot of this is that I don’t think the browser is the problem when a page takes a long time to load — at least I have something to look at while I’m waiting for something to load. Further, Google will give me a notice if it seems like something is having trouble loading, and give me a chance to close out that tab, instead of just borking the entire browser — really good when I’m doing research and have a ton of tabs open.
Conversely, the websites that Chrome seems to choke on the most often? Gmail and Google Reader. Unfortunate on a number of levels.
Not all of the extensions I used in Firefox had Chrome equivalents. Some I was able to obsolete (I don’t need to use del.icio.us now that Chrome has Bookmark Sync built-in), some I needed to have the same functions I had in Firefox (such as having a separate window to show downloads), some are even better than I had before (like Four Numbers, which keeps me updated on Gmail, Google Reader, Google Voice, and Google Wave all at once), and some I just can’t replicate (like Morning Coffee, which allowed me to load a number of websites with one click). Ultimately, that’s about what I expected going to a new browser — it’s ultimately a trade-off of gaining function in some areas while losing it in others.
I’m not entirely sure Bookmark Sync is working, though. It doesn’t seem like everything is copying over, and the sync document in Google Docs has a bunch of links that I know I deleted. I tried getting rid of them all and adding them back, but that doesn’t work. Still, I was able to delete a good 50% of the bookmarks I’d accumulated over the past five years, and I didn’t need to have them open to the Internet just to sync betweencomputers. Plus, I’m not sure how much I actually use bookmarks anymore beyond shortcuts on my browser and sending something from one computer to another without having to email it to myself (but I might be able to use Evernote instead for research notes). Something to keep an eye on.
Overall, I’m digging Chrome. It reminds me of what I loved about Firefox when I first started using it. If all goes well, I can enjoy this browser for a few more years before it too becomes too bloated and unwieldly, and I’ll have to look to the next contender.