Google has released a stable update for its Chrome web browser, while Internet Explorer (IE) 9 and Firefox 4 remain in their beta phases.
The stable version of Chrome 9 marks its suitability for general consumer use.
Chrome 9 offers two major improvements over previous versions of Google’s web browser – WebGL graphics and Google Instant.
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WebGL support brings 3D animations to the browser using the power of the computer’s hardware, rather than requiring additional software plugins. Google has set up a demonstration website to showcase WebGL Experiments in action.
Other browsers that support WebGL include Safari and the beta version of Firefox 4. Microsoft said it is not planning to add WebGL support to the latest version of its web browser, IE9.
Google is also using the Chrome 9 release to further solidify the unified address and search bar – called the location bar. In Chrome, the location bar at the top of the screen functions both for entering search terms, and for typing web addresses, giving a simplified interface.
In this latest version, Google Instant is now incorporated into the location bar. This allows users to get real-time updates when searching, with the search results changing as they type. The Instant feature also means that when users are signed into their Google account, the Chrome browser will predict the addresses of frequently visited websites from the first few characters.
Google Chrome security fixes
Other improvements to Google Chrome include nine security fixes, and the opening of the Chrome Web Store for Chrome-based apps and which is available to all US users. The browser-based app store, which launched in December 2010, will be expanded to users outside the US soon, Google said.
Google Chrome 9 is available as a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux users from google.co.uk/chrome. If you’re already using a previous version of Chrome, your web browser will be automatically updated if your update settings allow for this.
Firefox 4 delayed
While Google rolls out updated versions of its Chrome browser, its rivals are in the process developing major updates to theirs. IE9 is currently in a beta version, while Firefox 4 is in its beta test phase. Compatibility problems between Firefox 4 and Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail service are reportedly delaying progress.
Firefox 4 is due out late February.
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