Over the past several years Chrome has become our favorite browser internally and the browser we recommend to all our clients. While Chrome has many great features for the enterprise, here we are going to focus on why we love the browser as individuals. We love other browsers too and never hesitate to recommend Firefox. It was incredible to see the Mozilla team's Firefox 4 double up Microsoft's IE 9 in the first 24 hours of downloads today. We love Firefox but Chrome is our favorite. Here's a few reasons why.
I have no idea why the other browsers have not implemented the Omnibox feature. Chrome is based on the open source Chromium project so documentation for Omnibox and the code are available. It sounds like it's available in Firefox and Opera via extensions but it should be the default for all browsers. Omnibox is fantastic because it's stupid simple. Instead of a place to put the URL and a place to enter a search term, why not just have one field a person can use for either? It's pretty easy to tell the difference between a URL and a search query. Why should it matter if I type what I want in the left box or the right box? Of all things, shouldn't computers know the difference?
If they can win Jeopardy you'd think they'd know what a URL looks like vs a search query and act accordingly. Well they should and they do. Chrome has one place for the person to type their URL or their search term. It seems like a small change but a 50% reduction in complexity is always a good idea. Once you get used to this change you'll never want to go back. Working with others browsers is like using a phone that has one button to make a call and another to end the call - it's just silly. Omnibox is the only way to go.
Chrome takes it to a whole other level with Google Instant. One of the artificial intelligence challenges Google's founders mentioned earlier in the company's history was for the ability of the search engine to know what you're looking for "instantly". Google is getting surprisingly good at this and the firm illustrates this most effectively in the Chrome browser.
Looking at the picture below we can see the combination of Omnibox and Instant Search in action. I hit one key, the 't' and that's it. The instant I hit that one key, not only did Google correctly suggest and autocomplete the rest of the word, the service actually pulled up the page itself. I never hit 'enter', I never typed an 'e' much less an 'echmeme.com', I never selected that first item from the list - I only hit 't' and before I could even consider typing the next letter I was on the page I was looking for - this is fast, this is instant. The term Instant Search doesn't actually capture the full ability of the service, it's not just search - it's instant specific to your search. This is magnitudes faster than digging through bookmarks, or trying your URL box only to mess up and the use the search box to try and find the site.
If you're like most people you're going to be somewhat consistent in what sites you visit. From the time you first hit a letter, Google is going to offer and simultaneously present your web sites based on that first letter. As you keep typing, Google is going to keep guessing. 't' first represented Techmeme, the service's second guess can be seen as well, it's Twitter. Had I typed a 'w', I would have been taken automatically to Twitter. If I keep typing and Google doesn't recognize anything in my pattern, the service will begin to make suggestions based on aggregate search activity of all Google users.
You're on the web all the time - seconds add up to minutes, which add up to hours. Hours make up days and days make up our life - seconds are a big deal. Google's search engine is our world's most heavily utilized artificial intelligence system - by definition these systems are engineered to improve. And improving they are.
Simple is good
Chrome has the most efficient interface of any browser. The clutter on most browsers is horrible. They could be featured on the A&E TV series Hoarders. It's like some evil conspiracy against the general public. 98% of it is useless junk - it's bloatware. Chrome is as clean as they come. We can see below what I typically work with. I'm on a MacBook Pro running OS X. Not counting the Google.com web site itself I think I have about 15 buttons. Without my extensions I only have 11. That's pretty trim but I can still reach any site I want in a matter of seconds. My extensions are the icons to the right. Chrome to Phone allows me to send any site directly to my phone - very handy for directions or any other site I want to take on the go. Google Voice gives me real-time access to any incoming voicemail or text messages and reply by text within the extension or call directly if you have Gmail open. Google Translate let's me translate any web site or content like a Tweet. That blue star provides a list of old bookmarks for stuff I access so infrequently I haven't committed it to memory or added them my Chrome bookmark bar which renders when I open a new tab but don't offer a letter or letters for Google to work with. The little baby head is bit.ly, the very popular URL shortner. The last extension is Pandora which gives me instant access and streaming of about a dozen customized music stations - you can do everything from the extension, no need to open the site itself.
I don't really worry about phishing or other malicious sites. Chrome prompts me with a very clear indication that the site I'm trying to visit should be avoided. Chrome's Sandboxing feature also keeps malicious sites from installing software onto my computer. Chrome's auto update feature allows the Chrome team to quickly respond to new threats and proactively protect my system.
Chrome Syncing is one of my favorite features. You can actually set Chrome to keep you synced between all your devices. No more managing bookmarks on each individual computer you work on. Chrome also keeps your extensions synced so they can follow you too.
The browser is the most used and useful application on your computer. It is important to actually decide which browser is best for you rather than just use what you've always used because it just happened to be put in front of you. The Internet has changed a great deal in the last 5 years. Has your browser? It might be time for a fresh start with Chrome.