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Google Releases Stable Version of Chrome 9

Web giant Google has now released the ninth iteration of its Internet browser Chrome into a stable version.

New Chrome users can now download the browser from Google’s website. Existing users will find that the browser automatically updates (a confirmation message will appear when this has been successfully downloaded).

There are three key enhancements to the web browser as a result of the upgrade to version 9.

Google Instant

Google Instant has now been incorporated into the location bar (Chrome’s combination of the address and search bar still used in other browsers). As users start to type the name of a web address, Google Chrome will present instant results based on the text input by the user. When that user is signed into his/her Google account, then the browser will try and predict the site required using the first few key strokes, based on the user’s most commonly visited sites.

Google Instant is not activated by default. To set this up, users must go to the Preferences menu in Chrome, select Basics and then tick the Google Instant check box lower down. Note that the instant capability is available for Google, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo and Bing, so Chrome does not force users to use the Google search function if they have another preference. On confirmation, the browser also presents very clear information related to the user’s privacy and how data from searches are shared.

WebGL support

The next main enhancement comes in the shape of support for WebGL. WebGL is a computing standard developed by the open source developer Khronos, which effectively allows web browsers to use a graphics API (application interface) that enables 3D images on web pages. The key benefit here is that the 3D images can be presented without upgrading any of the hardware. By building support for this in Chrome, there is now much greater potential for users to benefit from 3D graphics on their existing computers and laptops.

This is also a big deal for web developers because it means that search results can be identified in both 3D and normal resolution, simply according to whether the browser is WebGL-enabled or not. Previously, sites would have had to have been listed twice (once in 3D and once in normal resolution). Google’s own application Body Browser uses WebGL to present the images in 3D format.

Support for Chrome Store

The Chrome Store is Google’s latest assault on Apple’s App store, providing a portal for web applications, games and other software, both free and paid. The Chrome store is currently only available to US users, but where the browser detects that the user is in the US, a link to the Chrome store appears on the New Tab page. Support for the Chrome store is to be rolled out to other countries soon.

As well as these three enhancements, the new browser includes nine new security fixes. It’s bad news for the competition though, as while Chrome users enjoy yet more features and enhancements, other browser updates have yet to be launched. Internet Explorer 9 is still currently in its Beta phase, along with Firefox 4, which is now due out at the end of February.

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