Google recently released the Mac version of their Chrome browser for the Macintosh platform. This comes almost exactly a year after the public release of the Windows version first made available in December of 2008.
Being primarily a Mac user, I decided to wait for the Mac version to put the Google browser to the test. After a week of use, I’ve concluded that the Chrome browser is good but not great. It is just as fast as Safari on the Mac and seems peppier than Firefox. However, the absence of some key features and plugins will keep it from becoming my default browser for now.
As I mentioned previously, the Macintosh version of Google Chrome is fast. Pages seem to load just as fast as in Safari 4 and a little more quickly than in Firefox 3.5. Since I am not a heavy Firefox plugin user, my experiences likely represent the best speed possible using Firefox 3.5.
I like the fact that Google has combined the address bar and search box. Typing search terms in the address bar to perform a Google search may take a little getting use to, but does manage to make the user interface seem just a little less cluttered. Another nice feature is the option to add Page and Tools menus to the Toolbar. These two buttons that appear just right of the address bar allow the user to perform numerous tasks without opening the Preference pane for Google Chrome.
Perhaps the biggest downside to Google Chrome is that it is only available to Macintosh users with Intel-based machines running Leopard or Snow Leopard. Power PC users or those running older versions of OS X will simply have to stick with the other browsers. Since the trend seems to be for Apple to leave Power PC users behind, I am pretty sure Google will not be putting out a version of Chrome for users of legacy hardware or older versions of OS X.
The lack of a bookmark manager for the Macintosh version is another bad thing about the Chrome browser. While it may not seem to be a huge issue, not being able to use a feature you have become accustomed to can be frustrating. My other issues with Chrome are minor and will be addressed with time. For my daily uses, not having plugins for applications like 1Password and Xmarks make it very difficult to work efficiently inside the Chrome browser.
The Verdict (3 out of 5)
While I realize this is the first version of the Chrome browser available for Mac users, the lack of plugins and a bookmark manager make it a third browser for now. As much as I enjoy the user interface and speed, not having access to plugins for 1Password and Xmarks makes it difficult for me to use regularly. I know that as time passes, software developers will add functionality for the Chrome browser and it likely will move pass Firefox to become my second browser of choice.
In the meantime, I will continue to use Chrome for my basic web surfing needs. Even though I cannot recommend making it your primary browser, I do recommend downloading and trying it out to see if it will work for you.
Google Chrome for Mac Screenshots