Last week, 1st of September to be precise, Google announced the final stable released of the updated version of its web browser, Chrome. Known as Chrome 53, this updated version comes with the usual talk about security upgrades, bugs fixes and improved performance. To be sure, all upgrades claim that. But the user experience is what would tell users if that were true.
Some reports from folks who read the technical details of the latest version of Chrome say the new version has being tweaked to optimize power consumption.
There is an interesting backdrop to this power optimization feature. 3 months ago, Microsoft released the result of an in-house experiment that claimed Edge browser uses power more efficiently than any other major browser. Chrome did poorly in the test.
The world was expecting an eloquent reply from Google, instead it was Opera that came out fighting and shooting from the hips. Opera’s reply questioned Microsoft’s methodology. Furthermore, Opera claimed their own test which was more credible showed Opera browser was the best in term of power utilization.
Could Chrome 53 be the long-awaited answer to Microsoft’s claims? Google is not saying that directly though. It is just being implied in the technical details of Chrome 53.
What is being directly implied in Chrome 53 is the new material design of the browser. The design had already being shipped out to Chrome OS users while users of Mac started enjoying it since April with Chrome 52.
The big deal about the material design is the new dark theme for incognito mode browsing to separate it from the everyday normal theme.
As usual, I checked to see if I could upgrade my Chrome to the latest version. As it turned out, it was a breeze. Just go to Settings and click on About. Then click on the ‘check for updates’ tab. Mine started checking for updates as soon as I clicked About. It took a few minutes. But at the end I got the latest Chrome 53.
The first thing I noticed was that the option button at the top right hand corner is now a single white bar encased in an orange circle. It used to be 3 horizontal bars arranged vertically.
Clicking on that orange circular options tab, I noticed too that Google kept to their promise to include the ‘Cast’ option as a default feature. So now the only thing left for me is to get a Chromecast tongle and a compatible TV. If only I had the money to invest in that.
The incognito button was where it should be. I clicked on it and Presto! Material design at work. The whole screen turned dark. I didn’t like it though. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t used to it I guess.
To get back to normal window, you’d need to type ‘chrome://flags‘ in the address bar and hit enter. Then click on ‘reset default’ in the far right corner of the window that opens. That would take you back to your normal window. I wished returning to the regular mode was made much easier than that. For example, how about making it as easy as going to incognito mode; with just a click.
Android users would have to wait a while to get the new Chrome browser for their mobile phones. Also users of Chrome operating system would get the updated version soon enough. It is a bit curious that Chrome OS users did not get the stable version 53 first.
Perhaps they are waiting to see if Chrome 53 works very well on other platforms before sending it out to their own OS; using us as a sort of Guinea pigs. On the other hand they could be planning something bigger and better for Android phones and Chrome OS. That can never be ruled out.
image credit: youtube.com; austin cyril (screen shots)