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10/26/2011
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Google Chrome 15: What's New

'New Tab' page showcases Web apps in the way that mobile phones showcase native apps.

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Google's Chrome Web browser reached version 15 on its Stable channel on Tuesday, bringing with it a redesigned New Tab page and over two dozen security fixes.

Google uses the term Stable channel to refer to a version of its browser software that has been deemed to be sufficiently bug-free for general release. The company's Beta channel and Dev channel offer less reliable builds of its browser for testing. There are also Canary builds, untested builds released daily for developers.

The New Tab page has been designed to showcase Web apps in the way the mobile phones showcase native apps. When the user opens a new tab in Chrome, he or she will see either thumbnail images of recently visited sites or icons representing installed Web apps.

Google wants users to think of their browser as a local store of content, as a destination, rather than as a gateway through which remote Web apps can be accessed. Creating a sense of ownership and investment in one's browser and the Web apps "installed" there should help dispel lingering notions about the inferiority of Web apps and help convince users that native apps and Web apps are interchangeable.

[ Google Apps is winning fans among government agencies. Read Google Apps Selected For Energy Dept. Lab. ]

In conjunction with the revised tab page, Google has redesigned the Chrome Web Store, the company's answer to native app stores. The new look matches the refined look that has been applied to other Google properties recently, like Blogger and Gmail.

The Chrome Web Store is now more graphically oriented, presumably because images enhance app marketing.

"Apps and extensions are now presented in a wall of images that's updated every time you visit the store," explained Google product manager Shannon Guymon in a blog post. "We hope this will help you quickly scan the store and find interesting things to try out. In addition, apps and extensions are easier to install--just hover over an image on the grid and click 'Add to Chrome.'"

Clicking on Chrome Web Store images now opens a window panel with three tabs--Overview, Details, and Reviews--and a scroll bar. The panel includes a main screenshot or video and addition screenshot thumbnails below.

The Reviews tab includes user product reviews that link to the Google+ profiles of reviewers, if they have Google+ accounts. The bulk of the reviews at the moment, however, predate the release of Google+ and just say, "A Google User." Google says it anonymized these previously submitted reviews to protect user privacy.

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