FIRST LOOK AT GOOGLE CHROME FOR MAC PRERELEASE BUILD

June 2009 VERDICT & SPECS FOR Beta BUILD >

The Google Chrome team is delivering on its promises to deliver Mac users a native version of the company's browser. A developer version of Chrome for both Mac and Linux users was released recently, but Google doesn't want you to download the software.

Daniel Ionescu

That's right: Google doesn't want everybody to start downloading this early version of Chrome for Mac, the latest prerelease edition, because it is incomplete. How incomplete? Read on...

Google Chrome for Mac: Get Acquainted

The installation process is as straightforward as with any Mac application. You download the 29.7MB .dmg file and then drag the Chrome app icon on to your Applications folder. Upon opening, a warning message lets you know this is just an early development version.

We were glad to see that the Windows XP blue bar at the top disappeared in the Mac version, and got replaced with a sleek silver one that resembles Apple Safari 4 (or vice versa; you decide). Besides that, it all looks and feels like Google Chrome for Windows: same most visited sites on the first page, a history search box and recent bookmarks.

Opening Gmail, Hotmail, and any general website was seamless, and Chrome actually felt speedier than Safari 4 Beta and Mozilla Firefox 3.0. This is by no means a rigorous calculation, but just an indication of how Chrome for Mac feels.

Internet news and reviews

So far so good; but that's about it for Chrome for Mac. As the product managers say on the release blog post, you can't (yet) watch YouTube videos, change privacy settings, or change the default search engine. Printing web pages does not work either, and the option to make a Google app (like Gmail) an application on your desktop is not available (greyed out).

When we opened an Incognito window, it got locked to the centre of the screen and we weren't able to type anything in the address bar of that window whatsoever. We weren't able to close that window, either, so a "force quit" of Chrome was necessary to get it back up and running. Besides that, during the time we played with Chrome, we haven't experienced any other crashes.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.com

Google Chrome for Mac: Specs

  • Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5
  • Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5

OUR VERDICT

Google Chrome for Mac is speedy and stable (we didn't experience a single crash while testing it, other than the one we forced to test the tabs-as-processes feature), and offers a good peek at what the future of the product holds. We found the interface intuitive, and really like how tabs run as distinct processes; too many times we've lost a lot of work due to a browser bailing with a number of open tabs and windows. Assuming Google can deliver the presently-missing features while maintaining the speed and stability of the current beta, Chrome for Mac looks to be a serious alternative to the currently-dominant Safari and Firefox OS X browsers.