Google chrome: speed at the price of bloat?

Yes, Virginia, Google Chrome is fast. I installed it on my Windows XP work machine to give it a whirl, and it certainly rivals if not outperforms Firefox 3 in the speed department (though I haven’t found it to be as fast as some).

Hardware manufacturers everywhere must be thanking Google for this development. As this Slashdot article points out, both Internet Explorer 8 and Google Chrome aim to overcome the limitations that a single-process approach imposes on traditional browsers (i.e. more prone to irrecoverable crashes, less robust when running multiple web apps). What this means is that both IE8 and Chrome will be more resource intensive. Sure, you can have flickr, google maps, and photosynth running all at the same time in different tabs, but it will cost you in extra RAM and CPU overhead (not that this is surprising).

So, even if all our applications do eventually get moved off our desktops into “the cloud”, as some people predict/hope will happen, we will still need faster and larger computers to be able to run these increasingly complicated, JavaScript-laden and Ajax-y web apps. The days of the dumb terminal are over and aren’t coming back.

In any case, I’m sticking with Firefox 3 at least until Chrome is available for Mac and gets a comparable set of plugins.

Some reflections on Aurora, browser of the future

Let me say first that this is some amazing conceptual work. Coming up with something that is genuinely new (or, depending on your metaphysics, at least seems so) is difficult work. It is rare that something comes along in the world of desktop software in general and web browsers in particular that can be called revolutionary, but I think Aurora fits the bill. I don’t want to get all hyperbolic–Aurora isn’t going to change political systems or rid us of our oil dependency–but I think you have to give respect where it’s due, and the team at Adaptive Path have clearly done some top notch work on this project of coming up with the browser of the future.

Rather than try to explain it, here’s part one of the video (link rather than embed because Vimeo’s embed code isn’t valid XHTML).

What I like most about it is how it clearly demonstrates the power of the semantic web. Data tables, event listings and so on are all (presumably) marked up to be computer- and human-readable and Aurora is able combine them with data from other user-defined and automatically-generated relevant data sources.

The visual effects are undoubtedly sweet, but it’s the interaction design choices that really make the video interesting.

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