The Google Chrome team is delivering on its promises to deliver Mac users a native version of the company's browser. A developer version of Chrome for both Mac and Linux users was released last night, but Google doesn't want you to download the software.
That's right: Google doesn't want everybody to start downloading this early version of Chrome for Mac, the latest prerelease edition, because it is incomplete. How incomplete? Read on as I give it a quick tour.
The installation process is as straightforward as with any Mac application. You download the 29.7MB .dmg file and then drag the Chrome app icon onto your Applications folder. Upon opening, a warning message lets you know this is just an early development version.
I was glad to see that the Windows XP blue bar at the top disappeared in the Mac version, and got replaced with a sleek silver one that resembles Safari 4 (or vice versa; you decide). Besides that, it all looks and feels like Chrome for Windows: same most visited sites on the first page, a history search box and recent bookmarks.
Opening Gmail, Hotmail, and any general Website was seamless, and Chrome actually felt speedier than Safari 4 Beta and Firefox. This is by no means a rigorous calculation, but just an indication of how Chrome for Mac feels.
So far so good; but that's about it for Chrome for Mac. As the product managers say on the release blog post, you can't (yet) watch YouTube videos, change privacy settings, or change the default search engine. Printing Web pages does not work either, and the option to make a Google app (like Gmail) an application on your desktop is not available (greyed out).
When I opened an Incognito window, it got locked to the center of the screen and I was not able to type anything in the address bar of that window whatsoever. I wasn't able to close that window, either, so a "force quit" of Chrome was necessary to get it back up and running. Besides that, during the time I played with Chrome, I haven't experienced any other crashes.
Overall, this early preview version of Google Chrome for Mac looks and feels just about right, although it has quite a long way to go before it can make it mainstream or become your default browser. If you want to take Chrome for Mac for a spin, you can download it here, but just keep in mind that this version is not for general use.
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