Google Chrome 15 has been released. It seems like just last year i was talking about Chrome 5 and oh wait, i was. That’s the pace at which the Chrome team roll out updates and the average Joe at his desk doesn’t even know it, because it’s all updated automatically. So let’s see what’s new with this update…
Google have gone mad redesigning all of their products recently and Chrome is no exception. They’ve redesigned the ‘new tab’ page and made it a lot more useful. It’s borrowing some navigation techniques from android / mobile in that it has two menu items down at the bottom of the screen – ‘most visited’ and ‘apps’. You almost want to ‘swipe’ between them and you can do so by clicking on them or clicking on the left and right aligned arrows.
Maybe it’s just me, but i can’t help but feel they could be doing so much more with that page. Personally, i don’t use the apps or take any notice of the recently visited / most visited icons. I think the icons themselves are too big and because they contain screenshots of the websites in question, i don’t associate the screenshots with a familiar brand or website. I *do* associate a logo with a website on the otherhand. Take Facebook or twitter – i know straight away that a white ‘f’ on a dark blue background is Facebook. White ‘t’ on light blue background is twitter… i’d prefer if chrome allowed me to organise websites like that, or organised my most visited websites in that way. They do use favicons but the favicons are too small and are overshadowed by the thumbnail images.
At first i thought apps in the browser were a good idea. I still think they’re a good idea but right now i just don’t use them. Why? Because a lot of them are crap and time wasters but also because i’m on a desktop so it doesn’t make sense to use an app and limit a websites functionality in doing so, when i can just go to the website itself. It’s not just me that thinks that… the youtube ‘app’ on chrome is simply an icon that links to youtube.com. Same with Google Maps. I don’t get it… why would i want to ‘install’ that? How does that add value to the app store? It’s basically a bookmark disguised & rebranded as an app. So i think the Chrome App Store is confusing and doesn’t know itself where to draw the line in terms of what is an app and what isn’t an app.
Or maybe it’s more a case of me assuming that an ‘app’ is basically a trimmed down version of a website’s best features all in a nice sexy little interface. Am i wrong to think that? Is that not what an app is? What Chrome is doing is blurring the definition of an ‘app’ and in my opinion, de-valuing the app store by allowing these ‘bookmarks’ to appear as apps.
Having said that, Chrome 15 does a good job of installing / previewing apps. I like the new interface and will probably start using it a bit more but i still think they need to improve on the quality of apps. We’ve come to expect high quality apps featuring on any app store (be it Android or Apple) and for me, chrome web app store disappoints… but it is improving and if Google continue to roll out changes at a frantic pace, they’ll continue to win browser market share and become the browser of choice for us all. I find myself using Firefox less and less (mainly only for developing purposes) and i’m a big fan of Google Chrome. It’s been my default browser since late 2009.