In September 2008, Google launched Chrome as a “fresh take on the browser” at a time when web developers and internet users were expressing a growing sense of frustration with Internet Explorer and Firefox. Ten years on, and Google Chrome has secured over 60 per cent of both the desktop and mobile web browser markets.
Many factors have contributed to the success off this product. From a development viewpoint, Google Chrome focussed on web standards, respecting HTML5 and complying with both Acid1 and Acid 2, at a time when Internet Explorer was struggling to comply. Google also used the concept of ‘sandboxing’ to improve speed and stability, ensuring that even if one individual browser tab crashed, others could continue to function.
Surprisingly, almost a decade after it first hit our computer screens, the design of Chrome had never been tweaked. That’s until this week, when Google gave its browser a facelift to mark the 10th anniversary. So, what’s new?
What’s new in Chrome?
- Curvy corners – in a big design change from the trapezoidal tabs, the active tab now has vertical edges and curvy corners. Other open tabs appear on a light grey background with a simple text address label and favicon. Google says this makes the active tab easier to spot.
- Oval omnibox – to complement the curvy corners, the omnibox becomes oval and it works differently too. When you begin typing a search, it now offers answers directly below that may avoid the need to actually load the website. It will also suggest that you switch to a tab that is already open, if that website corresponds to your search.
- Thumbnails on iOS devices – on iPhones and iPads, tabs are now shown as thumbnails instead of full-width panels when you’re switching from one to another.
- Custom shortcuts – you can now customise the shortcuts that appear on the new-tab page by adding websites you use most frequently.
- Custom background – on desktops, you can select the cog icon on the new-tab page to upload a custom background for the page shown.