After hearing about Google Chrome on PBS today, I decided to give it a go. Ever since Netscape messed up Navigator 4·7’s successor, I had been looking for an alternative. I switched to IE5 around that time, and haven’t really switched back from the Microsoft engines. Maxthon—the browser developed by freedom-loving Chinese on the mainland—has been my browser of choice, because it loads the IE engine without all the extra add-ons, in the same way Firefox loads the Gecko engine.
My main objection to Netscape, and Firefox, was that after 4·7, it has taken a retrograde step when it comes to Latin typography. Simple things such as quotation marks and ligatures can show up in a different typeface, depending on settings. Certainly on all three of the computers in this ofﬁce, ligatures do not show properly on Firefox and if you are typosensitive like me, then it’s not really an option to see a typeface change every few lines.
Google Chrome loads up pretty much like Firefox, with the same linespacing and paragraph indents, when I go to either this blog or to Lucire. Feeding in this blog entry using Chrome, it shows the text in Courier, which Firefox does on this system. Both these things I can live with. And the good news: the ligatures work! Finally, someone invented a non-IE browser that can cope with ligatures and quotation marks, bringing us back to where Netscape was in 1999. Good on you, software bofﬁns: it only took you nine years.
Speed-wise, it is slower than Maxthon, so that is the ﬁrst black mark against Chrome—why put up with a slower browser?
The user interface is nice. I know I am using Chrome, so there is no point seeing the program name in large letters across the top. The minimalist layout is good and it’s Chrome’s strength.
There is no reassuring noise when clicking on a link, as IE has, but it’s a small change I am willing to make.
Because of Chrome’s simplicity, however, there is no way to set default fonts, so if I don’t want to see Courier, then that is too bad. It’s a second black mark as far as I am concerned.
It also allows me to copy an image’s URL without my having to browse the image properties. Excellent: it’s the only browser I know of that has this simple option.
The search function is quite good. Google has been clever enough to blend the search box and location bar into one—while others have done this before, even Firefox has maintained a separate search box to the side. Google Chrome’s designers have seen ﬁt to eliminate the separate search box altogether.
However, every time I search, I am taken to google.co.nz. I never asked Chrome to default to the New Zealand version of its engine. Even when setting manually the search engine as google.com in its options, Chrome will not oblige. Even when I use the New Zealand version, go to the home page and click on ‘Go to google.com’ (the technique one normally uses to tell Google which search engine one prefers), future searches still go to google.co.nz.
I have always believed it should be my choice to use over which version of Google I should use and other browsers respect this. Even Google itself respects this if I were surﬁng as a regular person to its site using any other browser; and its toolbar, too, respects whatever choice one makes.
This is not a lack of patriotism but simple business: because most of my online publications’ readers are American, it is important for me to see what they might be seeing through Google.
The only way to stop Chrome from redirecting me to its own choice of search engine, ironically, is to use a non-Google option, e.g. feeding in Yahoo! Search as the default.
I had the same objection once upon a time to the Ford Motor Company, which forced users to the local site depending on where they were surﬁng from. So a New Zealand Mustang fan would be stuffed: ford.com would redirect to ford.co.nz, and you can read up on the latest Laser hatch. Ford, thankfully, abandoned this technique.
So most of Chrome’s little problems I can live with, but the speed and absence of typographic control will prevent me from fully switching for now, though I would be prepared to use it every now and then. But the biggest problem with Chrome is the way it searches Google—and that seals the deal.
How strange that the worst feature about a browser developed by a search engine company (or what used to be) is its search. In fact, it would steer one away from Google to another search engine; and in this respect its rivals are actually more supportive of Google!
Therefore, I won’t be adopting Chrome as my browser of choice, at least not till it goes out of beta.
PS.: The search bug disappears through closing Chrome and reopening it. But Chrome hasn’t won me over yet. Other issues discovered since I wrote the above include: no Autoﬁll as the Google Toolbar has; and Chrome’s spellcheck identifying errors in words with smart apostrophes (e.g. hasn’t in this sentence; it also thinks that spellcheck and google in this paragraph are misspelt—the latter is also ironic).
It also fails to refresh the page, despite the Refresh button at the top of the browser. Even holding it down with the Control key makes no difference.
Now that the google.com matter has been ﬁxed, I’ll give it a few more days to see if I change my mind. I am still tempted to wait till it goes out of beta.—JY Posted by Jack Yan, 06:17
i keep learning about more and more advantages and features with Chrome, with privacy, for example; now if only they would take care of the browser's fickle cookie management...Post a Comment
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