Will Google Chrome Spur a Better Web?
May 13, 2011
Google’s Chrome web browser has added 90 million active users in the past year. That more than doubles their total user base in 12 short months — bringing them to a total of over 160 million users worldwide.
Another staggering fact from the Google camp is that just a year ago, in May 2010, Chrome was in its fifth version. The web browser’s current release is now sporting the version 12 badge. There’s no sign of that development cycle slowing. In fact, Google has publically committed to a six-week release cycle, meaning we’ll be seeing a new version of Chrome roughly every month and a half.
While a lot of the development and change from version to version will focus on speed, security, reliability and polish, there are also intriguing opportunities in what this could possibly mean for innovation on the HTML5 and CSS3 fronts.
Already, a lot of experimental CSS properties are showing up in the Webkit project, the open source engine that powers Google Chrome. (Further reading: The Future of CSS: Experimental Properties). It’s also worth noting the WebKit engine powers Apple’s Safari web browser as well.
While it seems unlikely that a new wave of web banners that say “best on Browser X” is coming, consider experimental and innovative new HTML and CSS to be a bit of peer pressure to keep the competition on their toes, hopefully engaging in an on-going game of feature leapfrog.
But the age-old dilemma of every web professional — browser compatibility — still obviously comes into play as an obstacle. Why create a solution that doesn’t work everywhere just because it’s cool and new? The hope though is that the 6-week cycle of Chrome, and the new 18-week development cycle of Mozilla’s Firefox will spur both competition and innovation that helps combat browser compatibility issues. Browser X doesn’t support a given feature? Blink, and it may! Even Microsoft is accelerating. Internet Explorer 9 was only a few days old when talk of IE10 started.
In the end, this means that the companies behind the leading web browsers are aware of how quickly the landscape of the Web changes, and none want to be left behind. What that means for the designer, developer and ultimately the consumer is faster, better and a more secure web experience. Enjoy the ride.