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2/8/2011
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Review: Google Chrome 9 Unleashes New Features

The browser update brings a more active and immersive Web experience, including improved graphics, applications, remote printing, and search.

Google Chrome 9 Advances The 3D Graphical Web
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Slideshow: Google Chrome 9 Advances The 3D Graphical Web

With Chrome 9, Google continues to push the envelope in Web technology, implementing a few new features to provide quicker search and improved graphical experiences within a Web browser.

Default WebGL Support

One of the more interesting new features in Chrome 9 is its support for WebGL. WebGL is part of the parcel of emerging and in-development Web standards that tend to be lumped under the HTML 5 umbrella.

What WebGL enables is rich 3D interfaces, animations, and games within a browser without the need for add-ons such as Flash, and, as such, it could be a key element for bringing games and other immersive applications to browsers (and browser-only operating systems such as the Chrome OS). With this release, Chrome 9 becomes the only stable release browser to include default support for WebGL, with other browsers currently supporting it in their betas or development builds.

In my tests, the implementation of WebGL worked well in Chrome 9. I was able to run a set of WebGL demos both at a provided Google site and at WebGL demo sites around the Web. However, that is the key weakness of this feature right now. WebGL is still under development and most of its current implementations are still in the demo phase; there are very few active implementations of WebGL live on the Web today.

Integrated Instant Search

Another new feature in Chrome 9 is integration of Google's Instant Search within the browser's address bar. This isn't enabled by default, but I could turn it on from the options window in Chrome.

Once enabled, if I started to type a search term in the address bar (called the Omnibox in Chrome) the main browser window switched to a Google search page and instantly displayed the potential results as I typed. At first I was a little annoyed, as I thought that Google search had replaced the page I had been on when I started entering the search. However, if I decided that I was unhappy with the results and deleted the search terms from the address bar, the Web site I was originally viewing was again displayed.

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