Google is celebrating the second birthday of its Chrome web browser with the release of a new, improved version.
Chrome 6 arrives with an updated user interface, better syncing tools that include support for web form data and extensions, and — as should be expected with every new browser release these days — increased speed and numerous bug fixes.
If you don’t want to wait for Chrome to automatically update, head over to the download page and grab Chrome 6 for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Google’s browser is in an enviable position right now. It recently passed Safari in user share — new data from August shows the lead it snagged in June is stretching — and it’s gaining on Firefox and IE. Also, in a market where raw speed is the most important metric, Chrome is enjoying a solid reputation as the one of the fastest — if not the fastest — browser on the scene.
Chrome has also had considerable impact on how other browsers in the market look and behave since it arrived in September, 2008. It kickstarted a shift toward minimal interfaces that Firefox and Internet Explorer are mimicking. Chrome also started the trend of tightly sandboxing web browsers to improve stability and security.
If you’ve been using early builds of Chrome 6, there isn’t much here that’s new, but if you’re upgrading from the older, stable release of Chrome 5 there are quite a few changes.
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about Chrome 6 is what’s missing — almost all the toolbar buttons. Chrome has consolidated nearly everything into a new menu button to the right of the URL bar. Click it and you’ll find the browser’s most-used menu functions.
Other nice touches include a new green padlock icon in the URL bar to indicate you’re on a secure HTTPS connection, and a less-cluttered new tab page that serves as your starting point for new browsing windows.
Chrome 6 isn’t just a visual update — new features like form auto-fill make for faster checkouts at e-commerce sites and faster sign-ups on new services. Chrome can now also sync both your autofill form data and any installed extensions across all your computers.
Chrome may be celebrating its second birthday, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. The Chrome dev channel already contains an embryonic version of Chrome 7 with hardware acceleration and the new “Tabpose” feature for quickly switching between your open tabs.