Google Chrome Gets 30% Speed Bump, HTML5 Functionality

Google launches a new beta build for its Chrome Web browser. The latest application development measure includes 30 percent faster processing, introductory HTML5 support, a new New Tab page and Omnibox and, of course, the Chrome Themes everyone has been talking about this week. With 2.6 percent of the browser market, Chrome trails Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari and Opera.

Google Aug. 5 released a new beta for its Chrome Web browser. Chrome 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.

Chrome engineer Glen Murphy said the new beta release tested 30 percent faster than the previous build on both the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks, thanks to improvements in JavaScript execution.

Also, when users open a new Web page while other Web pages are still loading, Chrome fetches text, images, and video requests for the new page ahead of the requests from the older pages. Pages should also load faster due to DNS caching, more efficient DOM bindings and proxy auto-configuration via the Chrome V8 JavaScript processing engine.

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 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.

Read more about this on TechMeme here.