The Google Chrome (s goog) browser has been in existence for a little over a year now, and has close to three percent market share, according to NetApplications. Many people attribute its relatively low market share thus far to lack of availability of finished Mac and Linux versions, as well as a lack of of the kinds of very useful extensions that are available for Firefox. On that last front, Google is taking a bold step forward, and making support for extensions turned on by default on versions of the browser obtained through the Dev channel, which anyone can subscribe to. The news was announced on the Chromium blog, and is a strong sign that a healthy ecosystem of extensions is on the way for one of the speediest and most innovative browsers.
Google’s Dev channel has been the way to get new versions of Chrome that are in development at the earliest opportunity, and while the versions aren’t final or always totally stable, many Chrome users stay updated through it to get the latest features. Until now, access to support for extensions for Chrome has been available only for developers.
If you subscribe through the Dev channel, you can now begin using quite a few useful extensions with Chrome. Several of the sample extensions are shown here, and will ring a bell if you happen to use the analogous extensions in Firefox. There is a Gmail Checker extension, an extension for quickly grabbing RSS feeds as you browse, and an extension for checking on Chrome’s latest builds. XMarks and other popular Firefox extensions are also headed for availability on Chrome. In addition, Google confirms that “we’ve also enlisted some help to get extensions up to speed on Mac and Linux.”
For those who would like to develop Chrome extensions, there is some documentation. And, if you’ve already written an extension, you should check this update. Lack of extensions has been a shortcoming for Google’s browser, which is based on an open source core and designed for extensibility. It’s good to see this new chapter unfolding for the browser.
Which Firefox extensions would you like to see made available for Chrome?