02 August 2010

Experimental notifications in Chrome 6

I use Chrome as my primary browser every since the first version, but after a while I switched to the stable channel because I prefer stability in a software I use practically every day all day long. The Chrome team recently launched the Canary build, allowing you to basically have two versions of the browser running in parallel on the same machine, so I have no excuse anymore not to test the latest innovations in Chrome. Apart from the more important features, like a built-in PDF viewer and possibly voice recognition, there are a number of smaller changes to the visual side of the program I have recently noticed.

The most promising is a subtle way of notifying the user when a page has updated content. If you keep a web application opened in a pinned tab, Chrome will add a subtle animated white glow to the tab when the page has updates. I saw it until now on Gmail, Google Buzz and Brizzly, but I think it will work with other pages as well. It’s a little hard to explain how it looks; I’ve tried to make a short video to showcase it. It’s probably an experiment related to the planned app-tabs; after all an app that doesn’t notify the user wouldn’t be very user-friendly and desktop notification could easily become overwhelming.

Chrome notification about new update

Another new visual notification you might notice is a small orange bubble on the unified wrench menu. In this case, you have an update for the browser itself: if you open the menu, you will see a new version is available and can update to it immediately. It’s a new step to make browsing as safe as possible by reducing the amount of time users are browsing with an older version. 

Chrome new update dialog

Chrome unsecure HTTP connection

While the current build dropped the http:// part of the internet address, secure sites received more prominent visual cues. Especially sites with broken security stand out, as their omnibox icon is now a red pirate head.

Other than that, the canary channel looks very stable so far. I have yet to experience any crashes on this computer, which is not exactly top-of-the-line. There are some rendering issues; for example in the previous version – specifically last week – I couldn’t use the native retweet on the Twitter web site, but that was already fixed in the mean time with an update.

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