Browsers. Google Chrome. Convergence

by Matt 19. December 2008 18:15

Right, one last post about the current crop of browsers. Google Chrome. The fabled, rumoured GBrowser. Based on WebKit. “V8” JavaScript engine. Uber-standards compliant, uber-fast.

And surprisingly not very innovative.

Which feels a little unfair, after all, it’s definitely a cutting edge browser. Without question. And it’s very good. But it’s just not doing anything that any body else isn’t.

The process isolation sandbox is a brilliant feature, and provides a level of security and reliability the web hasn’t seen since, oh, the introduction of IE8.

Ok, bit of a cheap shot. It is a great feature. But it does highlight something about the current crop of browsers – convergence. All of the big three browsers are getting more and more alike.

Look at the address bar – intelligent search on your history and bookmarks. Open a new tab, and get a task based page to better help you start surfing (IE and Chrome have different ideas on what to display, but the basic idea’s the same). Google ships with Gears and IE ships with (partial) HTML5 support (offline storage, but not worker threads in JavaScript). Chrome even eschews the normal menu bar in favour of page + tools menu, just like IE.

In fact, the only innovative thing I can see Chrome doing (other than perhaps the implementation of the JavaScript engine) is getting rid of the search box. There’s an obvious overlap between the address bar and the search box, and Google have simply merged the two. You’ve been able to do this in IE for several versions, and I thought you could do the same in Firefox too, but neither browser has made the bold decision to split the two.

I also like the application shortcuts feature. I was sceptical about having a browser window without address bar or other security conscious adornments (didn’t IE have huge problems with that), but it’s actually working as a very nice way to read GMail.

Ah, you say, you want innovation? How about the tabs being at the top of the window? Yeah. About that. Odd choice. All it really means is that if I open enough tabs, I can’t read the window title. Thanks.

(But I do like the use of Aero glass – it is a very nice looking browser. Definitely not a native look and feel, but it’s a native implementation, and you can tell – very solid and smooth.)

And if any more evidence were needed that the browsers are converging – check out their logos. QED, eh?

browser logos. They all look eerily similar. Well, round.

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