An Early Peek at Google Chrome 2.0

Click here to see screenshotsLess than one month after Google released Version 1.0 of its Google Chrome Web browser, the company is providing an early peek at what Version 2.0 of Chrome will offer. On. Jan. 8 a developer's release (which is basically pre-beta) of Chrome 2.0 became available from Google. Most of the new features and changes are fairly modest and in many cases simply add capabilities that are already found in other browsers. If this is all that the final version of Chrome 2.0 will offer, then it will be more in line with point releases from competing browsers rather than a big, full new version release. However, I expect that when Google Chrome 2.0 is eventually fully released there will be more new features and capabilities than are showcased in the current release.

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Less than one month after Google released Version 1.0 of its Google Chrome Web browser, the company is providing an early peek at what Version 2.0 of Chrome will offer.

On. Jan. 8 a developer's release (which is basically pre-beta) of Chrome 2.0 became available from Google. Most of the new features and changes are fairly modest and in many cases simply add capabilities that are already found in other browsers. If this is all that the final version of Chrome 2.0 will offer, then it will be more in line with point releases from competing browsers rather than a big, full new version release. However, I expect that when Google Chrome 2.0 is eventually fully released there will be more new features and capabilities than are showcased in the current release.

As I mentioned, several of the new features in this pre-beta of Chrome 2.0 are already found in competing browsers such as Firefox and Opera. Among these are auto-completion for Web forms, auto-scrolling by clicking the middle mouse button, and the ability to create multiple browser profiles. This release of Chrome also improves page zooming, with both images and text increasing in size when zooming. This worked well, though I would like to see the option to use either this mode or text-only zooming.

When dragging and dropping tabs outside of a Chrome window, docking icons are now available, which enable different window display options when a tab is dragged to them. For example, dragging to the top center icon displays a full-screen page, while dragging to a side icon displays the page as a narrow tower on the side of the monitor screen. Spell-checking is also boosted in this release, with a right mouse button menu that lets users switch between languages and turn spell-checking on or off in certain fields.

Many of the new features in this release come from the use of an updated version of the WebKit browser engine on which Chrome is based. This provides many new scripting capabilities and improved standards support. While not perfectly completing the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, this version of Chrome does do very well on the test.

This developer release of Chrome 2.0 also offers a couple of interesting capabilities that are enabled when launching Chrome with special start-up flags. Starting Chrome with --enable-user-script provides a very basic form of user scripting similar to the popular Greasemonkey plug-in for Firefox. Starting Chrome 2.0 with a --force-https flag sets up the browser so that only sites that use secure connections will load in the browser, while all other sites will display an error page.

There are many other under-the-hood new features in this developer release designed to help developers, improve performance and pave the way for the potential release of Linux and Mac versions of Chrome.

To get this release of Chrome 2.0 (and all future developer or beta releases), follow the instructions on this page for subscribing to beta and developer update channels within Google Chrome.