Remember when Mozilla’s Firefox browser used to be the best alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer?
Today, the situation isn’t so clear cut. Google’s Chrome browser launched in 2008 and has clawed market share away from both applications. It’s now onto version 32, further refining a browser that’s reliable and built for speed.
Chrome makes browsing the web fast and fun and it already features a huge number of features. Search and navigate the web from the same URL box; easily rearrange or pop-out browser tabs; and take advantage of Google’s integrated translation service - Google Translate - to translate any foreign web page you encounter.
Link Chrome to your Google account and you can sync browsing information, bookmarks, themes and settings across different devices. This personalisation extends into customisation with Google’s Chrome Web Store, which boasts thousands of browser extensions to add extra functionality to what is already a powerful web browser.
Popular apps include Spotify and Feedly, Dropbox and the nifty Picmonkey image editor. But there are also hundreds of games to try, weather apps to add, Evernote text clippers, to do list plugins, timers and email notifiers to install. Chrome would still be a great browser without the web store. It’s an even better one if you take advantage of it.
New for version 32, Google has added an easy way for users to identify so-called 'noisy tabs'. Chrome now gives you a visual indication via a small icon when certain tabs are generating noise (i.e. if a video is playing or there’s a noisy advertisement), using a webcam or casting to your TV.
The ‘safe browsing’ malware warning has also been beefed up. Previous versions of Chrome blocked potentially unsafe pages, preventing programs from automatically installing browser add-ons, search engines or toolbars.
Version 32 now blocks potentially unsafe files that could prove harmful to your computer. These additions work alongside the handy option to reset your entire browser settings if the security of your browser has been compromised.
Chrome’s new look in Windows 8 gives it some extra polish, but nobody ever chose their web browser based on good looks.
Features count and the last update to version 32 boosts parental controls with Google’s new ‘supervised users’ option. This enables you to determine site restrictions and review browsing activity for family members who might need guidance when using the web.
Verdict: Surfing with version 32 of Chrome is fun, fast and efficient. It’s one of the snappiest browsers on the market and a superb alternative to Internet Explorer and Firefox.