Chrome 14 ups Google’s browser game

Google continues its assault on the browser market with the release of Chrome 14

By - September 23, 2011
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Google’s rapid development pace shows no signs of slowing as it rolls out a new stable version of Chrome, this time version 14.

Unlike Firefox, which also has an accelerated release process, Chrome appears to be benefiting from the high turnover, while Firefox seems to be suffering because of it.

The big addition to Chrome 14 is Native Client, a new method of running C and C++ code inside the browser. Native Client includes a new sand-boxing technology which is designed to protect the browser and the user from malicious code.

Although Native Client, or NaCl, has only now been included in a stable release, it’s not a new technology, first being introduced three years ago.

The idea with Native Client is to turn the browser into a more capable and rich environment for developing browser-based applications, including those designed for gaming. In particular Native Client is aimed at the 3D market and video editing where standard Javascript is not powerful enough.

The sandbox included in Native Client restricts where and what an application can write. The sandbox also prevents the application from accessing code outside of the defined range.

The Native Client is included in the browser using a plugin API called Pepper.

While Google has touted Native Client as being a major leap forward for the web, other browser makers aren’t as enamoured. Makers such as Opera and Mozilla feel that the move to Native Client is a step away from existing web standards, in turn undermining the cross-platform nature of the web.

Either way Google is set on this new course and has already made it available for 32- and 64-bit processors. The company is apparently working on a portable version of Native Client for other platforms.

For Apple users there are also a few changes in the latest release that makes Chrome 14 a worthy download. Among those are the inclusion of Lion’s “overlay scrollbars” which only appear when the user is scrolling. There is also initial support for full-screen mode.

Speed-wise Chrome generally delivers on its promises with most popular benchmarking tools showing Chrome is among the fastest browsers around.

Chrome 15 is already entering its beta version and Chrome 16 is in the development channel.

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