SLIDESHOW

First Look: Google Chrome 3.0

Google's new Chrome 3.0 browser promises faster page loading, customizable themes, and an updated tab page. Here's a complete look at the changes.

Introducing Google Chrome 3.0

Google has unveiled a brand new version of its browser, Google Chrome 3.0. The updated Chrome comes just over a year after the browser's debut and marks Google's sixteenth "stable update" to the program.

Google Chrome 3.0 sports substantial speed boosts as well as redesigned elements and a host of added features. It's available now for Windows and should become available for Mac systems within the coming months.

The release coincides with news that Chrome will be preinstalled on Sony's Vaio line of computers -- a move that could mark the start of a major push by Google to bring its browser into the spotlight.

But is Chrome the right solution for you? Take this tour of what's new in the 3.0 release and decide for yourself.

Next: The Need For Speed

The Need For Speed

Google Chrome 3.0 is significantly speedier than its predecessors, boasting a 150 percent increase in Javascript performance from the browser's first release and a 25 percent jump from the most recent version. Chrome was outperforming other browsers in speed tests even before this update, so the added boost can only increase its lead.

Next: Customizable Themes

Customizable Themes

Chrome 3.0 is Google's first stable release with built-in support for customizable themes. With a couple of clicks, you can find a new look for your browser and apply it immediately. Nearly 30 options are available in Chrome's Themes Gallery, with more said to be on the way soon. So far, we like the elegant "Marble," the sleek "Brushed," and the clean and bright "Desktop" (pictured here) best.

Next: New Tab Page

New Tab Page

Chrome's tab page gets a makeover with the 3.0 release. The tab page, which opens by default when you start the browser, now allows for greater customization: You can drag and drop thumbnails to arrange them to your liking and "pin down" icons to keep them permanently in-place. (Otherwise, they continuously rearrange to reflect your most recently visited sites.) Chrome 3.0 also allows you to view the tab page icons in a list format, if you prefer, or to hide them from the page altogether.

Next: Upgraded Omnibox

Upgraded Omnibox

Chrome's Omnibox -- the address bar at the top of the screen where you type URLs or search terms -- becomes a bit more user-friendly with the 3.0 release. The Omnibox has always offered suggestions as you type in terms. Now, however, the suggestions are better organized with an optimized dropdown menu. The 3.0 Omnibox uses added icons to show you whether items come from bookmarks, history, common searches, or Google recommendations.

Next: HTML 5 Support

HTML5 Support

Google Chrome 3.0 offers support for HTML5 capabilities, including the "video" and "audio" tags for integrated embedding of multimedia elements. With those options, multimedia content can be featured and played in pages without the need for any plugins or external utilities.

Ready to give the new Chrome a whirl for yourself? If you have an older version of the browser already installed, you should be prompted to update soon. Or, you can visit the official Chrome page to download it manually now.

JR Raphael shows his less serious side at eSarcasm, his new geek humor site. You can keep up with him on Twitter: @jr_raphael.