Google has just released the Mac and Linux alpha build of Chrome at the beginning of this June, and “Danger” is the word they chose to put on the announcement page. I have to admit that I was not sure on doing the review of – direct quote from Google itself – “incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software” and prefer to wait until the final version. But having read about what the Windows version can do, I just can’t help but wondering what the Mac alpha version would be like.
The good, the bad, and the unscientific test
I’m just an ordinary Mac user and not a certified software tester, so don’t expect to find scientific result here. All I did was take this incomplete Mac version of Chrome for a ride, doing the things that I usually do everyday with a browser.
But first, I downloaded from here and installed it.
Opening, closing and re-opening the browser
As silly as they sound, there are reason why I do this: first is to know how fast the browser starts, and closes; second is to glance at the look; and third is to know whether Chrome saves the previously opened tabs upon restarting.
Chrome opens pretty fast. Actually, pretty darn fast. That is a good sign.
Google search functionality is embedded directly in the address bar. So, you may just enter your search queries into the field, hit Enter and boom, you’re redirected to Google’s search results page.
Chrome actually saves passwords using Keychain Manager and allows you to add bookmarks. There isn’t a bookmark manager as yet, unfortunately. So don’t go adding bookmarks unnecessarily, there’s no way to delete them!
Unlike what Damien said regarding the Linux version, Mac’s Chrome alpha does have support for complex tab management i.e. you can pull individual tabs out of their current window and shift them around.
There is no Flash support yet. This means that everything that depends on Flash like YouTube or flash games won’t work.
Generally, I think the appearance is OK for a Mac app, but that is personal preference. But just like with Safari 4 beta, I disliked the way Chrome arranges the tabs above the address bar because the page title would be partially missing when many tabs are open.
I found a few minor bugs, though — such as the absence of favicons and the also the absence of green button to maximize the window. Another bug is the missing titles from some opened tabs as shown below.
After restarting, Chrome did not re-open the previous tabs automatically. Although, this setting is easily enabled in the Preferences. They do inform you which tabs were recently closed, that’s a nice touch.
Read Emails in GMail
I’ve been a GMail fan since its first appearance. And because Chrome also comes from Google, I think it would be logical to try to open GMail from Chrome.
I don’t have high hopes because several early reviews of Mac Chrome stated that GMail was not rendered perfectly. Yet, I didn’t encounter any problems. Another good sign.
Open a whole bunch of tabs
I think the concept of tabs is one of the best things that have ever happened in the browser world. The Windows version of Chrome takes it further by separating each tab into an individual entity. The idea is, if one tab crashes, the others will not be affected.
To see whether the same concept was also applied to the Mac alpha version, I tried to open as many tabs as possible at once (more than 20 before I lost count), and hoped that one of them would crash.
I was unlucky. Everything went fine. But I found that opening lots of tabs consumes a lot of processing power, and there was a lag for a few milliseconds for a page to appear when switching between tabs.
Just for your information, Chrome uses the same key combination as Firefox to switch between tabs: Command + Option + Left/Right Arrow.
Beside emailing, chatting and browsing, downloading is another main activity of the netizen.
By default, Chrome handles the download by itself. But to monitor the process, you have to open the download tab by going to the Window –> Downloads menu. No complains here either.
Editor’s note: By default, Chrome stores downloads to the Downloads folder but the settings to change the download location is bricked.
Last but not the least, I tried to blog using Chrome.
Maybe it was my connection or maybe it was Chrome, but I felt that logging in to one of my WordPress blogs took quite a while. Uploading pictures and saving post were not as snappy compared to Safari 4, and there were also several unsuccessful login attempts to other WordPress blogs.
This is just a short test drive of the Mac alpha version of Chrome, but I already like it – a lot. And after experiencing it first hand, I have to say that I can not wait for the final release. I must admit that it may be a tad more refined than its Linux counterpart. Read Damien’s article to see how it performed on Ubuntu
Have you tried it yet? What do you think? Does it give you hope for the final release? Share your thoughts in the comments below!