Google Aug. 5 released a new beta for its Chrome Web browser. Chrome 18.104.22.168 boasts a 30 percent improvement in speed over the current channel release, HTML 5 capabilities, an improved New Tab page and Omnibox, and 29 themes to make the browser more lively.
Chrome is battling Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari and Opera in the browser market. Statistics from researcher Net Applications show Chrome has 2.6 percent of the browser market, trailing IE's 67.7 percent, Firefox's 22.5 percent and Safari's 4 percent.
Google hopes to change that scenario, but it will take time because the incumbents are not standing still. Last month, Mozilla launched Firefox 3.5, which has been well received by users. New beta builds can help Chrome get up to speed, so to speak, with rivals such as Firefox.
Murphy said the Chrome team has also started building HTML5 capabilities into this beta, with features such as video tag functionality and Web workers. HTML5 is the next major revision of the core Web markup language.
Now for the improvements to the navigation and aesthetics of Chrome that end users without any technical savvy will appreciate. Images of the following improvements may be found in this review of Chrome 22.214.171.124 on Google Watch here.
Users can now drag and drop new Websites into the top slot on the New Tab page and pin Website thumbnails to a particular spot so they don't disappear even if your browsing habits change. Users can also hide parts of the page using the layout buttons on the top right of the New Tab page.
The Omnibox, the address and search bar that sits atop the browser window now has an improved drop-down menu, including icons to help users pick through their suggested sites, searches, bookmarks and sites from their browsing history.
Beginning today, users can also add a theme to their browser, similar to the way they would choose themes as the backgrounds for their iGoogle home pages. Users can choose from among 29 themes at the Chrome Themes Gallery here. Themes will only run on Chrome version 3.0 and above.
Users who want to try out these new features must be on the beta channel, through which Chrome regularly gets updated with new speed enhancements, features and bug fixes. Or users can download Chrome here.
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