Maybe they got the numbering wrong? Perhaps what we are now calling Google Chrome 2.0 was supposed to be Chrome 1.2, and some developer input the wrong numbers?
That must be the case because I can't think of many other reasons why such a minor upgrade to the Google Web browser is deserving of a full new version number. The vast majority of Chrome users won't even realize there are changes after upgrading to Version 2.0.
That's not to say that there aren't new features in Google Chrome 2.0. However, almost all of these features aren't exactly what you would call "new." Most (such as form auto-fill) have been available in competing browsers for years now.
The biggest claim to fame for the newest version of Chrome is in the area of performance. Google is claiming boosts in speed for Chrome 2.0, and in tests using a variety of test tools, the browser did perform well. But I've already given my opinion on the overrated importance of browser performance; in most cases, an improvement in speed is imperceptible to the user.
So what will users notice? Well, as I mentioned above, the new browser includes auto form-fill capabilities, providing suggested entries when a user fills out online forms. Chrome also now has a full-screen mode, accessible by hitting F11 or choosing Full Screen from the tool menu. Unlike competing browsers such as Firefox, which leave a small toolbar at the top in full-screen mode, Chrome 2.0 leaves no navigational aids in full-screen mode. This means users will need to either use keyboard shortcuts or exit full-screen mode to perform tasks.
Chrome 2.0 has also improved the tab page that comes up when a new tab is opened. As it did before, this page shows thumbnails of most-visited sites, as well as lists of bookmarked pages and recently closed tabs. But users can now customize it somewhat by clicking the Remove thumbnails link, which makes it possible to delete a site thumbnail from appearing in the new tab page. This is an improvement, but I would also like to see the ability to move thumbnails around, such as Safari and Opera provide.
As always, Google Chrome, which uses the WebKit browser engine, has very good standards support. On the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, Google Chrome 2.0 achieved a near perfect score. In tests, the browser appeared to be fairly stable and worked well with most of the Websites I visited.
If you are already a Google Chrome user, you can get Version 2.0 simply by upgrading your browser. To get the full download, go to www.google.com/chrome/.
Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.