Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Google Chrome - Not Ready for Prime Time

I was getting annoyed at the constant updates to Firefox, so I thought I would give Chrome a try.  I have been using it for a week now.  It has been out for a few years, and finally features plugins, synching (kind of), and such.  Here are the various platforms I tried it on:
  • Windows 7: Lenovo Core i7 8GB / SSD HD
  • Ubuntu Linux 12.04:  HP Pavillion P4 / 1GB / IDE HD
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion:  MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo 4GB / SATA HD, iMac Core 2 Duo 3GB / SATA HD
  • iPhone iOS 5, iOS 6:  iPhone 4S

Now, what about Internet Explorer? Lets just say it is a very rare occurrence when I meet a fan of that browser.

So, I have been a long time user of Netscape, and Firefox. I have gotten totally used to features like quick speeds, near 100% compatibility with web sites, and now synching of your browser data across devices. Other than the updates, my one pet peeve with Firefox: no iOS browser.

So when Chrome browser first came out, I was geeked to give it a try.  What I loved most about it, the minimalist interface!  So clean and simple, so iPhone-ish!  Speed, great.  But, biggest problem: compatibility.  Tons of web sites it didn't work on.  And another large problem: it didn't support the Google Toolbar and Google Bookmarks feature.

That was a couple of years ago.  Now, I figured enough time has passed the product should be mature, lots of plug-ins, and compatibility should be fixed.  Right?

Here's what I found:
  • Overall
    • Improvements:
      • Plug-ins, which they didn't have a few years ago.
      • Synch features to synch plug-in apps, bookmarks, cookies, passwords.
    • Disappointments:
      • Still not compatible
      • Can't open tabs from one device on another - a HUGE bonus with Firefox
  • iOS Browser
    • I know from other developers and Apple's history, that the only browser allowed on iOS devices is Safari.  I was happy to see Chrome, but I do know it is a wrapper to Safari.  That's OK, because the wrapper is all the important stuff - synched bookmarks and passwords and cookies and history.  It works well, the user interface is truly great and a vast improvement over Safari.  However, one feature I find I completely can't live without in Safari is the Reader option.  On a web page that is not optimized for mobile, you can tap Reader, and it will render the text with relevant graphics and hyperlinks in large font so it is easy to scroll and read.  Totally Apple-brilliant.
    • BOTTOM LINE: Nice to have synch with my desktops/laptops, but I do have that with the Firefox app - just can't browse in the Firefox app!  Definitely much more useful than Firefox app.
  • Windows
    • Nice and fast, clean, and there is an IETab plugin to open specific web sites in an embedded Internet Explorer in a Chrome tab (just like Firefox).
    • KILLER: Chrome had critical issues with the following web sites:  GMail, Google Voice, Google Calendar.  Notice a common thread here?  The biggest problem I had with Google Chrome was Google's own web sites!  Pop up menus didn't work correctly with mouse clicks, graphic glitches in renderings, and more.  The sites were unusable.
  • Mac
    • Nice and fast, plug-ins worked (except IETab of course), good synching.
    • KILLER: Same as Windows, didn't work on quite a few web sites including my most important Google sites.  My wife loves it, but I found the compatibility issues not worth it on my most important sites.
  • Linux
    • Nice and fast, clean - better launch time than Firefox is definitely noticeable on a slower system.
    • KILLER: Same issues.
Timely, because a colleague Whitson Gordon had a post comparing the browsers.  Chrome is a memory hog, and I found crashes frequently on the Mac and Windows platforms.

So overall, I was not impressed with Chrome.  Disagree?  Give me your feedback.

3 comments:

  1. That's very odd. I've been running Chrome exclusively for the past couple of years and haven't had any of the problems you're describing here -- particularly Google's own websites. The only compatibility issues I've experienced with it have been with Sharepoint sites at work and even that has been resolved a couple of updates ago. I used to have to use the IE in a Tab extension for Sharepoint sites, but haven't used it for several weeks now.

    I made the switch from Firefox mainly due to the better speed and the sandboxing of plugins along with how well it works with Google's own sites (which I use a lot of). I'm also able to open tabs from other machines. Any open tabs on my home PC are accessible just fine at work. Just open a new tab and select from the OTHER DEVICES menu at the bottom of the screen. Easy peasy.

    My experience with it is mainly under Windows 7 and Android and crashes are rare for me. Not sure what's causing your issues, but I'm definitely not experiencing the same thing. I was a long time Firefox fan, but I find Chrome is just a better experience all the way around.

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  2. I'll have to look again, I couldn't figure out how to open tabs across machines. I just found the "Other Devices" menu pick in the iOS app. Anyhow, I use Voice a lot to make calls, and the popup menu didn't respond to mouse clicks. Also editing and creating calendar entries was messed up. On both Win and OS X, I don't care too much about using it on Linux as I primarily search and troubleshoot on that OS.

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  3. I've used Voice in a limited form -- calls made from within Gmail or Google+ -- but I've not signed up for the full service where you route your phone calls through it. The limited usage I've had worked fine in Chrome. I've heard that Voice has been having some issues, but it didn't sound like a Chrome specific problem. My usage of the Google Calendar isn't huge, but I've never had a problem with it and Chrome. Created a reminder for a dentist appointment I have tomorrow just now and had no issues.

    I'm wondering if the problems you're having are due to a factor other than Chrome.

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