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- Last updated on 03/09/21
- There have been 12 updates within the past 6 months
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- Also available on Android, iOS, and Mac
Google’s Chrome Web browser has become one of the most popular in the world, thanks to smooth performance, support for add-ons, and features like casting and voice search that are absent in or only partially implemented by competing browsers like Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.
The best add-on support: Chrome slightly edges out Firefox in two ways. One, your add-ons are linked to your Google account. So if you download a new version of Chrome or install an add-on on one of your devices, when you log in to your Google account in Chrome on another device, the browser will automatically download and install those add-ons or updates. Two, the Chrome version of an add-on frequently has more work put into the user interface. For example, the login UI for LastPass is much nicer looking in Chrome than it is in Firefox. That matters if you’re logging in and out of LastPass all day.
Plus, Chrome’s task manager (access it by pressing Shift-Esc) breaks down how much RAM and CPU power each add-ons is using, so you can identify ones that may be causing issues with browser performance or device battery life. Firefox has some tools to track add-on performance, but they’re not nearly as user-friendly.
Great casting support: Casting in Chrome used to require an add-on, but it’s now embedded in the browser. If you have a TV with a Chromecast device and it’s on the same network as your PC, you can open a Chrome tab on your PC and send it to y0ur television. Or you can cast a streaming video that’s embedded on that tab. This is handy for presentations or for watching a video on a big screen. By contrast, for Firefox, only the Android version can stream, it doesn’t support as wide a variety of video types, and you can’t cast a tab.
Voice search: When you go to Google.com in the Chrome browser, the search field has a microphone icon in it. Click it to search using your voice, if your computer has an enabled microphone. For most people, this is much faster than typing a search query.
Memory usage could be better: It’s not unusual for Chrome to use over a gigabyte of RAM, even when you have just a few tabs open that are more or less static. There are understandable reasons for that — for one, Chrome has to remember your recently closed tabs so that they can quickly reload on demand. But Chrome does not tend to scale down its usage on devices that have limited amounts of RAM.
Resistance to add-ons that download embedded videos: As the owner of YouTube, Google naturally doesn’t want people downloading its videos and viewing them without the ads that make it profitable. But offline viewing is important for people with unreliable connections or who expect to be away from the Internet for an extended period of time.
Google has partly closed the gap with its YouTube Red subscription, which lets you download videos from the site for $10 a month, removes ads, and provides Google Play Music at no added cost. (And conversely, if you subscribe to Google Play Music, YouTube Red is bundled for free.) But that only applies to YouTube. If you dig around, you can find a few add0ons that lets you download embedded videos in Chrome, but they all have varying degrees of sketchiness.
The most popular browser choice isn’t necessarily the best. But despite its issues with RAM usage and limited downloading of embedded videos, Chrome earns its No. 1 spot with smooth page loading, lots of add-on support, and forward-looking features like casting and voice search.
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Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the Web faster, safer, and easier. Use one box for everything–type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and Web pages. Thumbnails of your top sites let you access your favorite pages instantly with lightning speed from any new tab. Desktop shortcuts allow you to launch your favorite Web apps straight from your desktop.Google Chrome is in the Web Browsers category of the Browsers section.