Google Introduces “Chrome,” a Web Browser Based on WebKit

Google Blogoscoped was sent a cartoon from Google showing off Google Chrome, an open source browser based on WebKit with Google Gears built in. The Google browser has been long rumored but never confirmed, but this is the first proof that it is coming. In fact, the first beta of the browser is supposed to be posted sometime today, at launch it will only be for Windows but will have Mac and Linux versions soon.

You can view the entire comic here but it’s a little long so unless you want to look through 38 pages you might as well get the bulk of the details listed below.

Chrome will run each of its tabs in its own process therefore when one tab crashes it won’t take down the whole browser. It also should give the browser an overall performance boost. This design will need more memory up front but in the long run will actually save memory since most users tend to multitask and open/close lots of tabs.

Google Chrome will display tabs at the top of the browser window rather then under the address bar. The search box and address bar is being called the “omnibox.” The search bar though will be able to detect site-specific searches and remember them so users to easily use them again from the browsers search box.

Chrome will have a Opera style Speed Dial-like page which will give users quick access to their most frequently visited sites and search engines.

The browser will also have a “Incognito” mode in which the window that you choose to enable this feature on will not record anything you do there (“porn mode” if you will).

Google will continually download a list of known phishing sites and list of malware sites to your computer, which will be used to warn users if they are about to visit one of them.

Google decided to use WebKit because of how quickly it renders web pages, but oddly enough Google decided to build its own JavaScript virtual machine called V8. V8 was built from the ground up and leverages the concepts of hidden class transitions, precise garbage collection, and machine code generation to make JavaScript-heavy applications faster.

It isn’t a surprise that Google would want to release their own web browser but it will surely cause an odd relationship between Google and Firefox, since Google basically funds Firefox entirely, that search bar in the upper left hand corner isn’t just there because it’s handy.

I don’t know if I’m going to choose Chrome over Firefox when it is made available for the Mac, but since I don’t use very many Firefox extensions it all comes down to how comfortable Chrome feels while using it. I’m not sure if I’m going to be too fond of the tabs above the “omnibox” but who knows. I’m happy to see a lot more competition in the browser space and I hope that this will do nothing more than force most of them to become more and more standards compliant.

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