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Google Chrome Gets Faster, Learns HTML 5

Speed, customization, and privacy improvements are apparent in the latest beta version of Google's Chrome browser.

Google's Chrome browser got faster, again.

On Wednesday, the company released a new beta version of Chrome, numbered for those keeping track of such things.

The updated beta is 30% faster than the Google's current stable release, according to V8 and SunSpider benchmarks. Google puts a premium on speed because it knows that Web applications can't compete with desktop applications if they're sluggish or unresponsive.

In a blog post, Google software engineer Glen Murphy says that in addition to improved JavaScript performance, Chrome handles network data more efficiently. "For example, when you open a new Web page while other Web pages are still loading, Google Chrome is now smarter about prioritizing the requests for the new page -- for instance, fetching text, images, and video for your new page -- ahead of the requests from the older pages," he said.

The latest Chrome beta also features an improved New Tab page that provides greater privacy by allowing users to specify the Web page thumbnails displayed. This allows the user to prevent visits to embarrassing Web sites from being documented for all to see.

Chrome's Omnibox -- a combination of browser address bar and search box -- has also been updated with the addition of new icons to differentiate between bookmarks, searches, suggested sites, and sites from your browsing history.

Chrome users can now customize the appearance of Chrome using a variety of themes from Google's Themes Gallery.

Google has begun to include support for HTML 5 features like HTML video tags and "worker" background scripts. Some of these have already been implemented in Mozilla's Firefox 3.5.

The open source Chromium project provides details on the status of various HTML 5 features that are being integrated into Chrome.

Future versions of Chrome will support bookmark syncing using Google's servers, a feature that could be generalized to cover generic replication of local files to the cloud. In a message posted to the Chromium mailing list on Friday, Google engineer Tim Steele said that synchronization code would start appearing in developer builds over the next few days.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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