Chrome for Mac Beta Available Now

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The developer builds of late have been pretty stable, but now you can download the official Google Chrome for Mac Beta. Released today, the Beta should offer Mac users a more stable browsing experience, one that hopefully is more representative of what the full release will eventually look like. It’s been a long time coming for us Mac users, but was the wait worth it?

I’m going to try my best to use Chrome as my default browser for a decent length of time, in order to give it a fair shake. But I am a little worried about potential feature scarcity. As has been reported before, the Chrome beta is missing some things that its Windows counterpart offers. Below is a brief list of what’s been omitted, and why it worries me that some of these things aren’t there with this new beta.

  • App Mode: One of Chrome’s greatest strengths is its ability to create Fluid-like single site browser instances that work more like apps than websites. It’s great for Gmail, Google Docs, and any other web app that has its own dashboard, menus, etc. The option is there, it’s just grayed out for now.
  • Gears: I know Gears is dead in general, as per a recent announcement, but for now the existing implementation is much appreciated. I’d like to hold on to it as long as possible, pending HTML 5’s gradual rollout, but the Chrome Beta isn’t onboard.
  • Multi-touch Gestures: Both the trackpad and the Magic Mouse’s multi-touch gestures won’t work in this beta of Chrome. That’s a big omission when you’ve become as dependent on multi-touch as I have, especially in terms of mobile computing.
  • 64-bit Support: Chrome is 32-bit only, despite Snow Leopard’s focus on 64-bit performance. It’s not a major strike against it, since the browser is still blazingly fast in my experience, but it could become an issue down the road if Google doesn’t give its browser a bump up.

There are other things I’ve left off my list, like full-screen browsing, for the simple fact that I don’t use them that often and they probably won’t affect my experience. And despite my complaints about what isn’t in this beta, what is there is very impressive indeed. The speed with which Chrome renders pages never ceases to impress, no matter how many times I take the browser out for a spin on either Windows or Mac machines.

Tabs also still do run as isolated processes, which is the major advantage Chrome brought to the table in the first place. Now when I have 57 tabs open across five windows on three screens, a badly coded Flash ad on one of them won’t force me to start fresh. Wait, that might not be a good thing…

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