Google Chrome has upped the ante in the browser wars by adding awesome features like voice search and syncing to its once-simple browser. In terms of speed, Chrome outshines the competition in many benchmark tests. Consumers and experts, however, have lingering concerns about Chrome's privacy policies and how the browser sends information back to Google.
Speed demon. Google Chrome's browser takes a minimalist approach, stripping down to basic browsing with an ultra-simple, intuitive interface. Reviewers find it very fast, with superb search features and excellent malware and phishing protection. While Chrome still has a simple design (adopting, not surprisingly, Google's model to ensure faster page loading), it has added bells and whistles in its many, many updates. (At press time for this report, Chrome was on version 33 and counting.) It's compatible with Windows (including XP and Vista), Mac, Linux and iOS.
A more refined browsing experience. Since launching in 2008, Google Chrome has been known as a bare-bones browser, but it now includes many of the features of its main competitor, Firefox, including tabbed browsing, custom extensions and a built-in PDF viewer and Flash player. Voice search and spell checking make Chrome an especially user-friendly browser. (A heads-up for voice users, however: The searches are stored in Google). InfoWorld.com praises Chrome for more than just its speed, citing "excellent" web standards compliance (it's top notch with HTML5), automatic updating and synchronization across devices. It also uses technology that isolates stability and security issues in individual tabs, so the entire browser isn't affected in the event of an attack.
Some concerns. While Google Chrome's current features are leaps and bounds above those in its earlier versions, many reviewers say they prefer Firefox or Internet Explorer in part because of Chrome's weak privacy. Among other issues, Chrome sends search information from the address/search bar (called the Omnibox) back to Google (which critics equate with Big Brother), predicting what you might search in the future. (The feature can be turned off.) In addition, synchronizing Chrome between your devices requires signing into a Google account. Chrome does have an "incognito" mode that disables tracking and history recording, but its Do Not Track options are "buried and discouraged", notes PCMag.com. (The website nonetheless gives Chrome its coveted Editors' Choice award.)
PCMag.com gives Chrome an Editors' Choice award for best browser thanks to its superior speed and features like voice search, syncing and spell check. The reviewer notes that Internet Explorer and other competitors are better for privacy and are formidable competitors to Chrome. Interestingly, the reviewer doesn't use Chrome personally because of concerns about Google's Internet dominance.
Review: Google Chrome 33, Michael Muchmore, March 12, 2014
Macworld.com gives Chrome a mostly positive review thanks to its superb performance in Macworld.com's benchmark tests. The reviewer, who tests Chrome 29, lauds the browser's "dazzlingly fast, reliably stable performance."
Review: Chrome for Mac review: When speed is all you care about in a browser, Nathan Alderman, Aug 23, 2013
This thorough review from CNET's download service covers installation, features and usability, including details on newer elements like the incognito mode (which disables tracking) and syncing. CNET editors give Chrome a 5-out-of-5-stars "spectacular" rating; rival Firefox gets the same but with slightly higher user reviews.
Review: Google Chrome, Eddie Cho, Oct. 13, 2013
4. PC Advisor
PC Advisor compares the features and performance of Internet Explorer 11, Opera 18, Firefox 26 and Google Chrome 31, but does not test them. Chrome is praised for its speed, frequent updates and features. Editors say that Chrome is the easiest browser to use across devices because you can simply sign in to sync accounts.
Review: Battle of the browsers 2014: which is the best web browser for Windows?, By Roland Waddilove, Dec. 16, 2013
This detailed report includes technical information for Chrome's 32 version, as well as benchmark test results. Chrome wins Infoworld.com's Editor's Choice award for its features, performance, ease of use and other attributes, scoring a 9 out of 10.
Review: Review: Google Chrome wants to be your OS, Martin Heller, Feb. 19, 2014
6. Midas Blog
Midas Blog tests the leading browsers, including Chrome , which beats the other browsers in eight of 15 tests. Its weakness is that it's much slower than other browsers when multiple tabs are open.
Review: The Best Web Browser? Internet Explorer 11, Chrome 31, Firefox 25, Opera 17 or Safari 5?, Editors of Midas Blog, Nov. 13, 2013
This short review compares older versions of Internet Explorer and Chrome on five benchmarks. Chrome outperforms IE 10 in these tests, making it the choice for ZDNet.com's reviewer.
Review: The best Windows browser today: IE 10 or Chrome 25?, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Feb. 26, 2013
In this head-to-head test, Google Chrome 25 is the fastest and leanest of the bunch. It beats out the other two browsers by a nose, but editor Widder says there's no "strong victor" in this case.
Review: Battle of the best browsers: IE vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari, Brandon Widder, March 31, 2013
9. Naked Security
In this informal poll, Chrome comes in second in trust with 27 percent of the vote; Firefox comes in first. It's unclear, though, how many respondents there were.
Review: Firefox burns Chrome in our trustworthy browser poll, Mark Stockley, Sept. 23, 2013