Next-gen web browser celebrates 2nd anniversary

Google Chrome 6.0 released

Google has released version 6 of the Chrome web browser, promising faster performance and an improved minimalist UI.

Chrome 6 had previously been in beta but today the latest version goes into the ‘stable’ branch for general distribution and existing Chrome users will get the update automatically. The new version also marks the second year anniversary of launch of the first Chrome browser.

Writing on the Chrome blog, Google product manager Brian Rakowski recalled the web situation when the first Chrome was launched: "In August 2008, JavaScript was 10 times slower, HTML5 support wasn’t yet an essential feature in modern browsers, and the idea of a sandboxed, multi-process browser was only a research project."

Rakowski said that browsers had come a long way in the last two years. Chrome itself has since come to the Mac and Linux platforms and the browser added customizable New Tab pages, browser themes, side-by-side view, password manager, better privacy controls and the built-in Adobe Flash Player.

Recent versions have also incorporated form autofill, automatic translation, HTML5 capabilities and synchronization of various settings such as bookmarks, themes, extensions and browser preferences into the Google cloud so they can be shared across any number of computers.

Where Chrome once lagged rival Mozilla Firefox, in third party browser extensions, Chrome has since caught up with a large ‘extension gallery’ of its own. Extension compatibility has also generally been the case between versions unlike the current Firefox 4 beta which is incompatible with most previous extensions.

Speaking of Chrome 6, Rakowski said: "we took the already minimalist user interface and stripped it down a bit more to make it easier to use. We combined Chrome’s two menus into one, revisited the location of the buttons, cleaned up the treatment of the URL and the Omnibox, and adjusted the color scheme of the browser to be easier on the eyes."

"Behind the scenes, we continue to extend the security features that help you browse the web more safely," added Rakowski. "This includes Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology — which serves as a warning system if you’re about to visit a site suspected of phishing or hosting malware; Chrome’s auto-update mechanism—which helps ensure that the browser is always up-to-date."

Chrome can be downloaded free from this web page.

Image credit: Mike Lemanski

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