Google has updated the stable channel of its Chrome web browser. This release is technically labeled Chrome 9, though Google ceased focusing on version numbers some time ago, opting for a rolling, every-six-weeks update schedule.
If you’d like to take the latest version of Chrome for a spin, head over to the Chrome downloads page. If you’re already using Chrome, the update will arrive automatically.
If you’ve tested the beta release of Chrome 9, there won’t be anything new to see in this update. But for those that prefer to stick with the stable channel, Chrome 9 brings several features from the beta channel to prime time — notably, support for 3-D WebGL hardware acceleration. This release also adds support for the new Chrome Web Store, and Chrome Instant, a tool that loads web pages as soon as you start typing in the URL bar.
WebGL, which was originally developed by Mozilla, acts as a bridge between the browser and the desktop hardware acceleration tool OpenGL. The WebGL project gives web developers a way to connect the HTML 5 Canvas tool, which can be used to display complex graphics in the browser without plug-ins like Flash, to the operating system’s native, hardware accelerated graphics engine — in this case, OpenGL. The result is much improved performance for 3-D apps on the web. Google notes a couple of demos you can try out, the Google Body experiment in particular does a nice job of showcasing the power of WebGL.
This release is also notable for being the first stable version of Chrome to include access to the new Chrome Web App Store (U.S. users only). To check it out, just click the new link on the New Tab page.
Chrome Instant mimics Google’s instant search feature when you type a search in the URL bar. If you type a web address, Chrome Instant will start loading the page as you type, which makes getting to your favorite sites a bit faster. The only catch is that Chrome Instant is disabled by default. To turn it on, head to the “basic” tab on Chrome’s preferences page and check the “Enable Instant” option under Search.