Ten years ago, the browser wars were done. Microsoft, used (some say abused) its market power to make Internet Explorer the most used browser on the planet, Netscape Navigator was dead after being the dominant browser and Google was but a babe. But Google saw an opportunity to further spread its reach as Microsoft battled anti-trust lawsuits. Now, Chrome celebrates its tenth birthday as the most used browser on the planet and Google is celebrating by adding some improvements to a browser that is now in its 73rd version. So, what’s new in the tenth birthday version of Chrome.
Although there have been incremental updates to Chrome coming quite regularly – 73 versions in a decade is testament to that – Google has held back a few more significant items.
New look: Google has refreshed the look of their desktop, Android, and iOS versions with more rounded shapes, updated icons and a refreshed colour palette. For example, the shape of tabs has been changed so website icons are easier to see – a handy change if you’re one of this epoeple who keeps dozens of tabs open at one time. And the mobile versions have seen some love with the toolbar moved to the bottom on iOS making it easier to reach. And versions have simplified prompts, menus, and an updated address bar.
Smarter autofill: Google has tweaked the way Chrome fills in passwords so it’s more accurate, making it easier to enter passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers. The data is saved to your Google account and can be accessed directly from the Chrome toolbar.
Password management: Password management has also been improved. Chrome can generate strong passwords and save them and synchronise them across multiple devices that are signed in to your Google account.
Search bar enhancements: I was today years old when I learned that the combined search box and address bar is called the Omnibox. Google has tweaked it so when you ask Google a question in the box, the answer appears right there. No need to open a new tab.
Under the covers: Over the last few months, Google has added an ad filter, launched site isolation which provides deeper defence against many types of attacks including Spectre, and brought VR and ARbrowsing to Chrome.
Although these improvements seem relatively minor, they reflect a number of things. Google’s practice of releasing lots of incremental upgrades rather than bundling new features together into larger, monolithic releases, was quite new. When Internet Explorer ruled, each new version brought a round of compatibility issues and challenges. Google changed that.
And the focus on standards based browsing shifted things with developers eventually demanding that IE change its ways or disappear. And there’s a good argument to be made that the combination of Chrome and Google altering its search algorithm to give HTTPS sites higher search rankings has helped to make the web a little safer.
Happy Birthday Chrome.