Let me start off by saying this is a subjective review. I’m reviewing how Google Chrome fits into my “way of life”, not how good/bad it is.

I have 4 browsers on my mac – Safari, Firefox, Opera and … Chrome! Since I do some web development once in a while (8 hours a day counts as once in a while!) I have loaded my Firefox with a bunch of handy web-dev extensions – Firebug, Web developer, Tamper Data, HTMLValidator, etc.. All that heavy load makes FireFox unusable for every day surfing – it’s just too slow. Hence, I use Safari as my main browser. I don’t miss any of the FF extensions or anything – it’s a simple browser, and is well “supported” on the websites I frequent – which is all that matters for me! In essence this will be a Safari vs. Chrome review.

To be “objective” I started by setting the official Chrome beta as my default browser. I’m even using it to write this!

I’m a creature of habit, that has probably to do with my excessive age! If it works – don’t touch it! Hell, I haven’t even reinstalled my Mac OS since I got this macbook almost 2 years ago. And a fresh install would be beneficial, I’m sure! At first (and still) the Chrome shortcuts make it uncomfortable – they are completely different from Safari. I expect to hit cmd + 1 and to load my first bookmark from the bookmarks bar, but instead I go to the first tab. And I use that shortcut a lot, because the 5 bookmarks I have make up for 80% of my browsing time! -1 point for Chrome. Moving left and right on the tabs – again different shortcuts. -1 point.

Then, I start browsing.

One of my favorite spy sites – http://live.xbox.com renders almost perfectly, except for the spying part – the text which says when your gaming buddies have been last online overlaps with some other text. I have to select the text in order to see it. -1 point! And that on top of the fact, that Chrome is using WebKit – Safari’s rendering engine. Safari displays http://live.xbox.com perfectly fine?!

Browsing all those flash intensive websites with lots of banners, and YouTube makes no difference. My MacBook’s CPU goes as crazy in Chrome as in Safari. No points added or subtracted!

So far the review is pretty negative, but that’s normal, I’d say. Everyone finds out first what has changed in a negative light. I really hate Safari’s hanging when it has to load a gazillion of flash ads. That doesn’t happen in Chrome. Chrome’s sandbox model allows you to browser some of your other favorite sites, while the heavy one “unhangs”. I love this on Chrome. +1 point.

For some reason Chrome seems to load websites faster than Safari. It doesn’t matter whether this is the fact or not, as perception defines reality, not statistics! +1 point.

I found out that PDF files are downloaded in Chrome, while Safari simply opens them in the browser window, which is very handy and keeps some extra trash piling up in my Downloads folder. Chrome doesn’t have that, so -1 point.

While writing this, I realized Chrome even implemented the html/js debugger available in Safari (apparently as part of WebKit), so Chrome will also be usable for a quick-debug too!

Another features that I love in Chrome, but absent in Safari, is the list of recently closed tabs. I really miss it in Safari. And the last tab I closed, isn’t necessarily just the previous one in my history, it’s usually 20 items back! +1 point.

Last but not least, I love the small memory footprint Chrome has! 60-80 MB even after 2 days staying open and used extensively for browsing. Safari will hit 400-500 MBs in that amount of time, even if there is not even a single page open. This, however, might be caused by a memory leak(s) from a number of plugins that Safari loads, and not be Safari’s fault.

What I’d love to see in Chrome, besides the points above, would be to use the passwords I saved in Safari auto-magically. I don’t remember 300 passwords or so, and I can’t be bothered looking them up. I just enabled the “offer to save passwords” feature, so it might turn out that this is already implemented, which would be great! UPDATE: It actually works out of the box. I just have to remember my username!

The fact is that if I were keeping score, it would have been a draw. But it isn’t, as I don’t keep track of the score, and points should be more weighted than a simple +1/-1 for an extra feature or for a missing feature. I’ll keep on using Chrome for a day or two more, if I get used to it I might replace Safari, but for now I think I’ll stick with Safari, and get rid of some of the countless number of useless plugins I loaded into it!

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