File Under: Browsers, Software

New Chrome Beta Gets a Huge Speed Boost, Flash

Google Chrome fans have a good reason to consider changing to Chrome’s beta channel — the latest beta release is, according to Google, 30 to 35 percent faster than previous builds. The update to the beta channel also includes some new features previously only available to those in the very experimental dev channel, plus a new addition in the form of Flash Player pre-installed.

If you’d like to try out the beta, you can grab a copy (or use the channel changer) from the Google Chrome downloads page.

The beta version of Chrome now includes features that were previously limited to the more experimental dev channel — like preference syncing, more HTML5 support, drag-and-drop file uploading and support for the geolocation API.

The preference syncing is particularly handy, allowing you to move themes, homepage and start-up settings, as well as your web content settings between browsers. Combine these features with the Xmarks plugin and you’ll have access to all your settings, bookmarks, open tabs and other data as you move between computers.

As for speed, well, yes, this update is indeed faster than previous releases. Recent builds of Opera were consistently beating the last Chrome beta in our testing, but with this release, Chrome is back on top.

This is also the first beta to feature built-in support for Adobe’s Flash plugin. Thanks to a partnership with Adobe, Flash is now part of Chrome and you never need to worry about updating Flash since Chrome will handle all of that for you.

Chrome still lacks a few of the features we love in Firefox — like a full version of the Firebug add-on — but it’s undeniably the fastest browser on our Mac.

The new features are still limited to the beta channel, which is generally pretty stable, but is, after all, still a beta. If you prize stability over new features, fear not, eventually these will work their way up to the official release version.

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